Kent Gustafson: (603) 271-2461
January 2, 2019

Preliminary numbers are now available for New Hampshire’s 2018 fall hunting seasons.

Deer Hunt Success: The unofficial deer harvest for New Hampshire’s 2018 hunting season was 14,057. This take was up 14% from the 2017 final harvest of 12,309 and is 26% above the 20-year average of 11,150. Deer hunting seasons are now closed in the state.

“With over 14,000 deer taken by hunters, it has been one of the best seasons in New Hampshire in nearly 100 years,” said Dan Bergeron, NH Fish and Game’s deer biologist. He noted that the physical condition of deer appeared quite good again this year despite the mast failure, and that a number of very large bucks were again harvested throughout the state.

“This season’s estimated total harvest ranks as the second highest in the state’s history going back 96 years to 1922, and was only exceeded in 1967 when 14,204 were taken,” said Bergeron. The 1967 harvest was comprised of 62% antlerless deer because hunters were allowed to harvest any gender of deer statewide throughout all seasons including archery, muzzleloader, and firearms. The unregulated harvest of does continued into the early 1980s, and combined with several hard winters, resulted in a significant decline in the deer population. In contrast, the majority of the 2018 harvest will be comprised of antlered bucks. This will result in an overall larger and healthier deer population and a more sustainable long-term harvest.

The unofficial deer harvest for New Hampshire’s 2018 season by county, with comparisons with previous years, may be viewed at Official harvest numbers will be made available after all deer registration data have been entered and verified.

Bear Hunt Results: The 2018 New Hampshire bear season harvest totaled 1,052 bears, which was 46% above the preceding 5-year average of 719 bears.  Additionally, this year’s bear harvest was a state record, exceeding the previous record of 898 in 2016.  The harvest consisted of 545 males and 507 females, resulting in an overall harvest sex ratio of 1.1 males per female. The White Mountain and Central regions accounted for 625 bears, or approximately 59% of the total. A breakdown of bear hunting results by region and method can be viewed at

“The record bear harvest is no surprise given the low availability of bear foods this fall.  Earlier in the season, bear food sources were primarily limited to apples (although spotty), white oak acorns (low statewide distribution), and corn,” said Andrew Timmins, NH Fish and Game’s Bear Biologist.  Timmins noted that these foods were largely depleted by mid-October and that bears began denning early as a result. By the end of September, 85% of the total harvest had occurred, and by mid-October 95% of the total was accounted for.

Current bear densities are consistent with regional population objectives in four of six management regions.  Bear densities in the White Mountain and Central regions are currently above goal. Bear hunting seasons in those areas were liberalized in an effort to curtail population growth and offer increased hunter opportunity.

Fall Turkey Season:  Preliminary figures indicate that New Hampshire hunters took a total of 1,280 turkeys this fall, a significant increase from the 450 birds taken in 2017.  According to Ted Walski, NH Fish and Game’s Turkey Biologist, “The primary reason for the increase was the lack of hard and soft mast in the woods.”  The harvest will be down in good mast years, as it was in 2017, and it will increase in poor mast years like 2018 because turkey flocks are in the fields where they’re more easily seen by hunters.

The total harvest was comprised of 658 hens and 622 gobblers. The breakdown for the fall season was: 490 (38.3%) adult hens, 168 (13.1%) immature hens, 101 (7.9%) jakes, and 521 (40.7%) adult gobblers.  Participants in the seven-day shotgun season in October 2018 recorded 837 turkeys, or 65.4% of the total fall harvest.  During the fall shotgun season, 157 turkeys were taken on opening day (18.8% of the shotgun total) and 303 (36.2% of the shotgun total) turkeys were harvested on the closing weekend.  Archery hunters took 443 turkeys, or 34.6% of the fall total.

Wildlife Management Units with the highest fall harvest were WMU J2 with 229 (17.9%), WMU K with 159 (12.4%), WMU M with 132 (10.3%), and WMU H2 with 120 (9.4%). These 4 units accounted for 50% of the total fall harvest.

Towns with the greatest fall turkey harvests were Loudon (24), Weare (22), Bath and New Boston (21), Epsom (19), Barnstead, Belmont, Gilmanton, Hopkinton, and Webster (17), and Alstead and Freedom (16).

Report Your Winter Turkey Sightings: The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is asking the public to report sightings of wild turkeys online at Please do not report multiple sightings of the same flock. The state’s Wild Turkey Winter Flock Survey will run through March 31, 2019.

Moose Season Summary: During New Hampshire’s 2018 moose season, a total of 41 hunters succeeded in taking their moose, resulting in a 77% success rate. Regional moose hunt success- rate data are available at The 2019 moose hunt lottery opens in late January.

Small game hunters are reminded to help Fish and Game monitor small game populations by taking part in the Small Game Survey and the Grouse Wing and Tail Survey. One participant in each will be the lucky winner of a quality firearm. Find survey forms and more information at Thank you!

Snowshoe Hare Hunting Workshop: Snowshoe hare season continues through March 31, and an upcoming workshop provides a great opportunity to learn about the exciting sport of snowshoe hare hunting. The free workshop will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on January 12, 2019, at Owl Brook Hunter Education Center in Holderness, NH. This year, registration for the workshop will be completed online. To register, visit

Waterfowl Hunters: There’s still opportunity to get out and hunt ducks, Canada geese, and snow geese in the Coastal Zone until January 7. If you’re up for a real challenge, try hunting sea ducks, as they are currently open in coastal waters (seaward from the first upstream bridge) until January 13.  The daily bag limit for sea ducks is 5 birds, which shall not include more than 4 scoters, 4 eiders, or 4 long-tailed ducks. Learn more at

wj-cover-smDon’t miss the latest waterfowl hunting article in the January/February 2019 issue of NH Wildlife Journal magazine. Braving the North Atlantic – New Hampshire coastal waterfowl hunting in winter presents rugged challenges with sweet returns. Subscribe today at

Wildlife Harvest Summary: Final numbers from the year’s hunting seasons will be summarized in the 2018 New Hampshire Wildlife Harvest Summary, which will be issued in March of 2019.

Help Teach Hunter Education: The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is looking for volunteer instructors to help with the Hunter Education Program.  Hunting is one of the safest outdoor recreational activities thanks to the 450+ volunteers in the state who teach the mandatory hunter education course.  If you are 18 or older and willing to invest as little as one day of your time per year consider taking the required training to get started. Applications are available at If you have questions, contact Fish and Game Hunter Education Coordinator Josh Mackay at Help us keep hunting safe!

Report a Poacher: If you are aware of poaching, call Operation Game Thief toll-free at 1-800-344-4262 or report wildlife crime online at

calendar-coverThe 2019 New Hampshire Wildlife Calendars are almost gone! Considered one of the top five wildlife calendars in the nation, the calendar features professional wildlife photography, hunting and fishing season dates, wildlife watching tips, and more. Be ready for a new year, and all of the coming seasons. On sale now for just $9.95 at

Subscribe to NH Wildlife Journal Magazine: New Hampshire Wildlife Journal magazine is your best source for hunting, fishing, wildlife, and conservation information in the state. Every issue includes outstanding wildlife photography, in-depth features, and how-to articles sure to elevate your experiences in New Hampshire’s outdoors. Visit to read sample articles and to subscribe.

Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration: A User-Pay, User-Benefit Program
sportfish-rest-logoResearching and managing wildlife and teaching people to become safe, responsible hunters are activities funded by your license dollars and by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program, which is supported by an excise tax on your purchases of firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment. Learn more at