Karen Bordeau: (603) 744-5470
Jacob DeBow: (603) 788-3164
September 26, 2022
Concord, NH – The hunting season for ruffed grouse—New Hampshire’s most sought-after upland game bird—starts October 1 and runs through December 31. Woodcock season also opens October 1 and concludes November 14. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Small Game Project Leader Karen Bordeau notes that 68% of small game hunting effort in New Hampshire targeted ruffed grouse and 18% on woodcock in 2021, and that over half of that effort takes place in the North Region. New Hampshire offers some of the best upland game bird hunting in New England, especially in the northern third of the state.
Hunter effort and observations are derived from our Small Game Hunter Survey. “Observation rates in 2021 indicate that grouse continue to be most abundant in the northern part of the state,” said Bordeau. “In 2021, we received 151 surveys, and small game hunters with the aid of a dog saw 1.35 grouse per hour of hunting in the North Region.” Spring roadside drumming counts are used to assess regional trends in grouse breeding populations. Highest grouse densities are in the North Region. In the spring of 2022, the number of drumming events heard per stop increased slightly in the North White Mountain, and Southeast Regions, and decreased in the Central and remained the same in the Southwest region of the state. “These numbers routinely rise and fall and cold temperatures during the morning of the surveys may have delayed grouse drumming during the survey period,” said Bordeau. “Long-term trends can be viewed in the 2021/2022 Small Game Summary Report.”
The 2022 grouse season is expected to be similar to last year with a dry spring in 2022 leading to strong reproduction. Brood size appears to be average this year as reported by sportsman and biologists alike. Fall mast crops will determine where grouse will be in the field, and finding pockets of available food that grouse are focusing on will be helpful to hunter success.
Woodcock season is expected to be similar to last year. Woodcock singing ground survey routes provide an index to the overall abundance of resident singing males and population trends. In 2022, woodcock density patterns varied throughout the state. The number of woodcock heard per stop increased in the North, Southwest and Southeast Regions, remained the same in the White Mountain region, decrease in the Central region. this spring. Long-term trends are depicted in the 2021/2022 Small Game Hunter Summary Report.
Woodcock hunters are reminded that they need a free National Migratory Bird Harvest Information (HIP) certification number in order to legally hunt for woodcock.
All small game hunters are encouraged to take part in Fish and Game’s annual small game survey, and successful grouse hunters are encouraged to take part in New Hampshire’s Wing and Tail Survey. Those interested in participating can get small game survey packets by calling Fish and Game at (603) 271-2461, and grouse wing and tail packets can be picked up from participating locations listed at https://wildlife.state.nh.us/surveys/ruffed-grouse.html. These surveys provide valuable insight into the status of grouse and other small game species in New Hampshire. As an incentive to participate in New Hampshire surveys, Ruger Arms and The Ruffed Grouse Society have again generously agreed to provide a firearm to a randomly selected participant in each of these surveys.
Long-term and regional trends for grouse and woodcock can be view in the 2021/2022 Small Game Summary Report which depicts detailed graphs by region and statewide. The report can be viewed at www.huntnh.com/hunting/publications.html. A new brochure depicts the long-term trends for our two popular game birds in a condensed format with statewide index and a focus on the North Region, and highlights from last year’s grouse wing and tail survey.