CONCORD — The 2020 New Hampshire Wildlife Harvest Summary is now available. The publication presents final data on the 2020 New Hampshire hunting seasons as summarized by the state Fish and Game Department’s wildlife biologists. This annual publication provides a complete analysis of hunting season statistics, including some information chronicled by town and Wildlife Management Unit.
The 2020 NH Wildlife Harvest Summary is available online at tinyurl.com/3vksxf98 (select 2020). A limited number of print copies will be available at New Hampshire Fish and Game Department headquarters in Concord and regional Fish and Game offices in Durham, New Hampton, Lancaster and Keene in the coming weeks. The summary is 55 pages in length.
The report reflects that New Hampshire’s 2020 deer season resulted in a total harvest of 13,044 deer, the fourth-highest harvest in the state’s history going back to 1922. This was an increase of 6 percent from 12,306 in 2019.
This year’s adult (antlered) buck harvest of 7,986 deer was the second largest one documented since 1922. The kill increased 2 percent from 7,807 in 2019.
The antlerless harvest (does and fawns) increased 14 percent from 4,436 in 2019 to 5,058 in 2020.
The total male kill in 2020 including male fawns was 8,800 and the total female kill including female fawns was 4,244.
Archers took 3,785 deer (up 11 percent from 3,395); the youth weekend accounted for 295 deer harvested (up 3 percent from 286 in 2019); and muzzleloader and regular firearm hunters took 3,166 (a decrease of 8 percent from 3,428 taken in 2019) and 5,798 deer (up 12 percent from 5,197), respectively.
The Harvest Summary includes data from the N.H. Trophy Deer Program, run by the N.H. Antler and Skull Trophy Club, which annually recognizes hunters who harvest deer with a weight of 200 pounds or more by each of the three hunting methods: archery, muzzleloader and regular firearms. Last year’s heaviest deer, weighing 270 pounds, was taken by Mark Evans of Wentworth using a muzzleloader. Evans’ harvest ranked among the top 10 heaviest deer ever taken in the Granite State.
Biological information was again collected during 2020 at select deer registration stations in order to monitor the physical condition of New Hampshire’s deer and assess harvest age structure. In 2020, a total of 1,069 deer were checked (737 males, 332 females). Average yearling (age 1.5) antler beam diameter was 18.2 millimeters and yearling male field-dressed weight averaged 115.0 pounds. Average yearling antler beam diameter was nearly identical to the recent five-year average of 18.1 millimeters. Field-dressed weight was above the five-year average of 113.6 pounds.
The 2020 bear take totaled 1,183 and is the largest harvest on record.
“This harvest level was 42 percent above the preceding five-year average (836 bears) and 12 percent higher than the previous record of 1,053 set in 2018,” the summary states. “The 2020 harvest level approximated 20 percent of the estimated statewide bear population (6,000) which was twice as high as that typically achieved (10-12 percent) during an average year. The increased harvest in 2020 was likely the result of several factors including concentrated food abundance, increased participation, and more liberal hunting seasons.”
The 2020 moose hunting season ran from Oct. 17-25, with 52 either-sex moose permits were distributed.
“This included 49 permits issued through the 2020 lottery, one deferred 2019 permit, and one permit each donated to the Wildlife Heritage Foundation of New Hampshire and the Dream Hunt Program,” the summary states. “Hunters took 39 moose with a statewide success rate of 75 percent.
“Twenty-three (23) adult bulls, three yearling bulls and 10 cows were taken statewide,” the report states. “This represents approximately 1 percent of the standing population. In contrast, vehicle kills of moose equal about 3 percent of the moose population. Overall, this represents a conservative harvest strategy designed to allow the population to grow provided moose are healthy.”
“The heaviest bull was taken by Maryland resident Christina Gregor, part of a family team that worked hard on every aspect of the hunt. The bull weighed 850 lbs. dressed, had an antler spread of 52.5 inches, and was taken in Unit C2 on Oct. 22. The heaviest cow weighed 700 pounds dressed and was taken by New Hampshire resident Jeff Grover in Unit B on Oct. 21. The largest spread of 54.5 inches was on a bull taken by Virginia resident William Nickel on Oct. 17 in Unit B. This animal had a dressed weight of 755 pounds. Robert Frasier of Moultonborough, as our oldest hunter, took a 400-pound (dressed) cow in Unit A2. Jessica Covey of Canaan, Vt., was the youngest hunter and she hunted hard with her grandmother (permittee) to take a 550-pound (dressed) cow in Unit A2. Congratulations to all who participated in the 2020 hunt and made fond memories sure to last a lifetime.”
The spring 2020 turkey harvest was 5,718, which was comprised of 25 bearded hens (0.4 percent), 1,216 jakes — a 1-year-old male bird (21.3 percent), and 4,477 toms (78.3 percent), an increase from 5,092 turkeys in 2019. This was also the largest spring turkey harvest on record. This increase may be attributable to the 2019 rule that allows hunters to take a second spring bird in certain Wildlife Management Units and an increase in hunter participation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2020 fall turkey harvest of 584 was an increase from 352 birds in 2019.
“This may be attributed to increased hunting participation this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the summary states. “The 2019 and 2020 fall harvests were both lower than 2018 (1,283), which is largely due to the fact that beginning in 2019 hunters had the option to harvest two birds in the spring in certain Wildlife Management Units (rather than one in the spring and one in the fall). The fall 2020 harvest ratio was comprised of 256 males (43.8 percent) and 328 females (56.2 percent). Of the 584 turkeys harvested, 265 (45.4 percent) were adult hens, 63 (10.8 percent) were juvenile hens, 176 (30.1 percent) were toms, and 80 (13.7 percent) were jakes.
The 2020 NH Wildlife Harvest Summary also provides statistics for moose and furbearers.
Wildlife research and management activities in New Hampshire, including production of the annual NH Wildlife Harvest Summary, are funded through Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration, a user-pay, user-benefit program supported by the purchase of firearms, ammunition and archery equipment.
Learn more about hunting in New Hampshire at huntnh.com/hunting.