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November 03. 2013 8:43PM

NH stats: 60,000 in state hunt for deer

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates 60,000 people participate in deer hunting in New Hampshire — a figure that has remained fairly stable since 2005.

"It is very much part of New Hampshire culture. We are still oriented to the outdoors and value that connection to the natural world," state Fish and Game Department spokesman Jane Vachon said.

The increasingly popular muzzleloader season opened Saturday and ends Nov. 12. Regular rifle season will follow Nov. 13 and ends Dec. 8, except for Northern New Hampshire where it closes Dec. 1.

Hunters will find a healthy deer herd this year with an estimated 85,000 white-tail deer in the state, Vachon said.

Archers had taken 2,518 deer as of Oct. 20 — a 30 percent increase from the same time last year.

"The increase at this point in the season is likely the result of the mild winter in 2012-2013 and favorable hunting conditions," Fish and Game Deer Project Leader Dan Bergeron said.

"The increased deer kill is likely to continue throughout the archery, youth, muzzleloader and regular firearm seasons as a result of higher deer survival ... following two of the mildest winters on record during 2011-12 and 2012-13," he added.

The archery season started Sept. 15 and ends Dec. 15. It ends Dec. 8 in northern New Hampshire.

Wildlife experts urge hunters and outdoor enthusiasts to wear a piece of blaze orange apparel when they head outdoors during hunting season. A fluorescent hat, vest or jacket are highly visible and are proven to decrease hunting incidents, they said.

Vachon said there have been four hunting-related fatalities in the last 10 years.

Motorists should watch out for deer crossing roads — particularly at dawn and dusk — with deer mating season underway, state conservation officials advise.

Nearly a third of all deer-vehicle collisions in New Hampshire occur from mid-October through the end of November.

Deer are creatures of habit; if you've seen them cross the road at a certain spot, slow down and use caution driving in that area, officials say. If you see one deer, watch out for others.

"For many New Englanders, the firearms deer season is a traditional opportunity to get together with family and friends, enjoy our bountiful resources and put meat in the freezer before winter," New Hampshire Fish and Game Department wildlife programs supervisor Kent Gustafson said.Hunters with full freezers are reminded the New Hampshire Food Bank seeks donations of whole or processed deer. For more information, contact the Food Bank at 669-9725 ext. 240.


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