NH: Black Bear Hunting Outlook

NH: Black Bear Hunting Outlook
NH: Black Bear Hunting Outlook
The 2011 bear hunting season, which begins September 1, looks very promising for New Hampshire hunters. The population is strong throughout the state, with an estimated total of 4,800 animals. Bear densities are relatively consistent with population management objectives in all of the state’s six bear management regions. Bear densities are highest in the northernmost three management regions, but the southern part of the state also offers good bear hunting opportunity. Over the course of the season, hunters have the ability to hunt bear using three different methods, including stalking, baiting and hounding. Season lengths and dates vary by region and method. See the 2011-2012 NH Hunting and Trapping Digest (click here and on publication cover).

The success rate of bear hunters each fall is strongly dictated by the abundance and distribution of natural foods. Regardless of which method of bear hunting is used, overall harvest tallies and success rates tend to fluctuate, often dramatically, from one year to the next as a result of variation in mast crop production. When their favorite fall foods are scarce, bears spend more time searching for food, cover a greater area and become more vulnerable to hunter harvest. Conversely, during food-rich years, bears do not need to travel far to find adequate food and do not encounter hunters as frequently.

Bears target many food items during the fall. During September, they focus their feeding activity on blackberries, choke cherries, apples, black cherries and oak. While it is difficult to predict fall mast (nut and berry) production, early indications suggest that there will be good crops of many of these species throughout the state. Bears tend to focus on fruits and berries during early fall and nuts during later fall; however, usage is strongly dictated by abundance. To date, plentiful flowers and good fruit production has been observed on blackberry, apple and choke cherry. Early nut production has been observed on oak again this year in some areas. Bears also will target beechnuts in late September and October. Beechnuts have been observed in many areas, but only time will tell if the hulls contain viable nuts. Corn crops often serve as bear magnets, especially if natural fall foods are limited.

Because of the influence of food distribution and abundance on bear activity, the wide variety of foods bears will consume, and the tremendous differences in mast production from year to year, bear hunters are advised to spend time scouting before the season. Time spent looking for productive mast stands and monitoring bear activity will greatly increase the chance of having a successful bear hunt. Although bears will not be targeting these areas until the nuts are ready and berries are ripe, it will give hunters a good idea on where to focus their hunting effort once the season starts. When checking acorn and beech crops, bring binoculars to canvass the crown of the tree, and break open fallen nuts to determine if they contain viable “meat.” Hunters should also take the opportunity to explore new areas, as bears will concentrate their feeding activity on the most productive areas within their home range. If bears are actively feeding in an area, abundant sign (tracks, scats, busted branches) will be evident.

A final word of advice: Daytime temperatures often remain warm during September and October, so proper planning and care is essential to keep meat cool during this early season. Bear hunters need to plan accordingly.


Recommended for You

Memorial Day sale offers 15 percent off everything website-wide. Coolers

Get Ready for Summer with Cordova Coolers

May 23, 2019

Memorial Day sale offers 15 percent off everything website-wide.

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish. Records

Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

G&F Online Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

Major League Fishing pros talk about the first lure they choose when targeting spawning bass.

Berkley

Berkley's Frittside Crankbaits

World Fishing Network show host Chad LaChance had a chance to visit with legendary crankbait master David Fritts about his new Frittside crankbaits from Berkley. LaChance, host of the Fishful Thinker on WFN, also got a few cranking tips from Fritts, the former Classic and Forrest Wood Cup champion.

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

As OSG's Lynn Burkhead looks on, Josh Neville shows off the cordless and corded versions of a new electric filet knife from Bubba Blades.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

 Veteran bass anglers often dismiss urban fishing opportunities as Bass

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson - February 13, 2018

Veteran bass anglers often dismiss urban fishing opportunities as "kid's fishing ponds," but...

 A 7 pound giant taken on a jig during the pre-spawn transistion in the Midwest.

Although the art Bass

4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass

Chris Schneider - August 25, 2015

A 7 pound giant taken on a jig during the pre-spawn transistion in the Midwest. Although...

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures? Other Freshwater

5 Great Lures For Bluegills

Stephen D. Carpenteri - March 10, 2011

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?

See More Stories

More Stories

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck supremacy? Whitetail

The Next ‘Big Tex' for Trophy Bucks?

Jordan Michaels - October 18, 2019

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck...

Behind the Badge is a regular series of perspective stories by Oklahoma game warden Carlos Gomez. In this article, Gomez recounts his experiences from his first nighttime poaching bust. Stories

Behind the Badge: A Warden's First Night-Poaching Bust

Game & Fish Online Staff - July 30, 2018

Behind the Badge is a regular series of perspective stories by Oklahoma game warden Carlos...

We Coyote hunters spend a lot of time ringing the dog's dinner bell when we call. But we are Stories

Call Our Complex Coyotes

Brad Fitzpatrick - July 13, 2017

We Coyote hunters spend a lot of time ringing the dog's dinner bell when we call. But we are

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×