Grouse and Woodcock Hunting Seasons Underway in New Hampshire
Win a Gun! Take the Small Game, Ruffed Grouse Wing and Tail Surveys.
Fall is in the air, and New Hampshire's small game seasons are underway. The state's season for ruffed grouse began October 1 and continues through December 31. Ruffed grouse are the most sought-after small game species in New Hampshire, accounting for 67% of the hunter-hours reported in the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's annual Small Game Survey. The northern portion of the state continues to be the premiere range for ruffed grouse, but they can be found throughout New Hampshire. This spring was favorable for grouse production in the southern portion of the state, according to Fish and Game's Small Game Project Leader Julie Robinson, while the North Country experienced cool weather and extended periods of rain, which can affect brood sizes.
New Hampshire's second most sought-after small game species is woodcock. Each year, dedicated biologists and a group of volunteers conduct woodcock singing ground surveys. These observations provide an index to the overall abundance of resident singing males, which biologists use to make inferences about the breeding population. The woodcock season has been expanded to 45 days this year. It opened on October 1 and ends on November 14. Substantial numbers of woodcocks move through the state in early and mid-November, so this season expansion should provide hunters with some additional quality hunting opportunities.
The woodcock season framework changes came about as a result of a new National Woodcock Harvest Strategy that was developed at the Flyway level with all four flyways, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the US Geological Survey working together. Historic and current woodcock breeding and harvest data were analyzed and a set of hunting frameworks was developed for the nation. Woodcock are managed by region. There is a Central Management Region in the Midwest and an Eastern Management Region along the east coast. Traditionally, the Central Region has been allowed a more liberal woodcock hunting season than the Eastern Region. The analysis completed for the new hunting strategy indicated that there was no reason to have different sets of hunting frameworks for the regions. So now we have one set of frameworks for the country.
Woodcock populations in New Hampshire are generally considered to be in good shape, even though there continues to be a small annual long-term decline in breeding numbers. Woodcock hunting pressure has declined substantially in the last decade, so Fish and Game biologists feel confident that there is room for some additional opportunity. The population will continue to be monitored closely and future hunting seasons will be adjusted as needed.
Whether you hunt for grouse, woodcock or other small game species, you can help Fish and Game collect data -- and have a chance to win a quality firearm -- by taking part in the Department's annual Small Game Survey. The small game survey is a hunter survey that provides Fish and Game with distribution, abundance and trend data on the state's small game populations. Just for participating, you'll be entered into a raffle for a firearm generously donated by Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. If you are a small game hunter and want to take part, download the survey form at www.huntnh.com/Hunting/small_game_survey.htm, or call 603-271-2461 to request one.
Grouse hunters throughout the state are also encouraged to take part in Fish and Game's annual wing and tail survey of harvested ruffed grouse. Grouse wings and tails are submitted along with a survey card, providing biologists with age, sex composition, distribution data and a juvenile to adult female ratio on this popular species. Participants will be entered into a raffle for a firearm donated by the Ruffed Grouse Society. For more information, including locations where you can pick up a survey packet, visit www.huntnh.com/Hunting/hunt_ruffed_grouse_survey.html or call 603-868-1095.
For online license sales and more information about small game hunting in New Hampshire, visit www.huntnh.com/Hunting/Hunt_species/hunt_small_game.htm
Wildlife research and management in New Hampshire is funded, along with license sales, by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program, supported by your purchase of firearms, ammunition and archery equipment. This provides opportunities for hunting, fishing and other wildlife-associated recreation.