The pandemic sent 10% more New Hampshire hunters into the woods

  • FILE - In this May 31, 2018, file photo, a pair of bull moose pause while feeding in the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge in Wentworth's Location, N.H. A study by University of New Hampshire researchers finds that winter ticks are posing an increasing threat to the region's embattled moose population. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File) Robert F. Bukaty

Monitor staff
Published: 3/29/2021 4:16:46 PM

There were more about 10% hunters in New Hampshire’s woods last year than the year before, reversing a decades-long trend, and they had a lot more success.

Presumably because COVID-19 removed many recreational options, New Hampshire sold 49,742 hunting licenses to state residents in 2020 compared to 45,664 in 2019. While this was still far below the heyday of the early 1990s, when 70,000 or more state licenses were regularly sold, it is the biggest annual increase the state has seen in years.

Like virtually all states, New Hampshire has along, slow decline in the number of people who buy hunting licenses, a trend usually attributed to the nation’s increased urbanization and to  an increase in outdoor recreation options.

Last year’s sales of out-of-state licenses were unaffected by pandemic travel restrictions, according to New Hampshire Fish and Game data: 2020 sales of 10,887 licenses were roughly the same  as in 2019.

Sales of licenses are a major funding source for Fish and Game, including many non-hunting-related activities such as search and rescue. The decline in hunting has squeezed its budgets over the years.

All those hunters found a lot of animals. Fish and Game’s “Wildlife Harvest Summary” says 13,044 white-tailed deer were killed during the various 2020 deer seasons, which cover rifles, archery and muzzle-loaders. Of that, 7,986 were antlered bucks, the second-largest such kill since recordkeeping began in 1922.

Bear hunters were also successful, killing 1,183 bears, the largest harvest on record. Hunters killed 5,718 turkeys during the spring season, which “may be attributable to the 2019 rule that allows hunters to take a second spring bird” in certain areas, and almost doubled the fall take from 2019, killing 584 birds as compared to 352. The population of wild turkeys in New Hampshire has been growing steadily since they were re-introduced three decades ago.


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