2010 October NH Woods Report

Archery deer, and small game season have been underway in full swing now for several weeks, and so far for me it’s been different from the past several years. I like to spend most of my time in the Strafford/Barrington area and this year so far has had some changes.

                                                     DEERI wasn’t too concerned with this years bucks only the first two weeks change. I usually don’t hunt much before October any year, and with the Indian Summer weather the latter part of September I got out just 2 times. Both days were in the upper 60s and 70s and there wasn’t much moving except me trying to swat the swarms of mosquitoes. I feel bad for anyone that took vacation time to hunt the first two weeks as the weather was more favorable to beach days and motorcycle riding than deer hunting unless you like wearing camo short sleeve shirts and shorts. While there were some bucks reported it seems to have been a slow start.

One of the first things I noticed this year are the conditions resulting from the lack of rain this past summer. The woods were very dry making looking for tracks difficult. Most all the tiny mountain streams were bone dry, and some of the larger beaver ponds had a little water left in them, many of the smaller ones were empty, especially if it was dependent on stream water to keep it full. The past 2 North Easters in early October have helped, there is a little water flowing again, but the forest floor itself remains pretty desert like. It’s been a windy month making tree stand hunting miserable, but on the flip side most of the early foliage has fallen making deer movement a little easier to find in the deep leaves This also bodes well for the rifle season as with less leaves on the trees the visibility will be good, and hearing deer moving will be easier for the stand hunters. The places I have found the most activity so far have been around the best water sources. I think deer like to get a good drink after feeding all night, so I place many of my stands around beaver ponds. This early morning tactic has worked well for me in past years, and with the low water conditions it should narrow down the spots where they will be headed in the early AM before bedding down.

                                            SMALL GAMEIn my area two species seem to be missing, partridge and wood ducks. If it’s the lack of water or food supply I don’t know but all season I have seen 1 partridge and no wood ducks. The once full ponds are usually teeming with woodies this time of year, so much so in the past it was hard not to bring along the shotgun for some good waterfowl hunting. I can only surmise that either it’s the lack of water and food, and the ducks have taken a different rout for migration, or it was a bad year for nesting and they have raised their broods elsewhere.

I have been told the partridge hunting in northern Maine is good this year, so I ‘m not sure what’s up with the birds in central southern New Hampshire. I have seen no beech nuts, and I have to wonder what effect the drought has had on the birch tree buds. Lack of good food and having to compete with the turkeys may have had some effect on them. Turkeys are everywhere! I’ve seen huge flocks every morning in the fields, and have found where they’ve been scratching in all the hardwoods looking for nuts and seeds. Last week I observed a flock of 20 + birds scratching around my tree stand while I waited for an afternoon buck to wander by. A note to archery turkey hunters. Study the vital zones on these birds well as it is smaller than you think. Turkeys may look huge due to their feathers, and a poorly placed arrow will either wound the critter or pass through only those feathers leaving your expensive arrow sticking out of the ground for the rest of the flock to peck at as they walk away. (This really happened to me)

The other small game animal that is plentiful are gray squirrels. Their abundance is another temptation to multitask and pack the .22 for a limit of these tasty critters. Nobody hunts them much anymore and I can’t understand why. They are a clean animal and make a great meal. This would be a great way to introduce young hunters to the sport, or spend some time with “older”hunter friends as it can be done with a .22 or 410 shotgun, and you don’t have to put in loads of time walking long distances. Pick a nice comfortable place to sit among oaks and pines in early mornings and late afternoons and you will be surprised how easy it is to limit out. Cleaning them is a snap. Make a slit in their fur across the middle of their back, insert two fingers on both hands and pull in opposite directions and the skin will peel right off. Then simply chop off the feet, tail and head, slit the stomach cavity to gut them and you’re done. I like to quarter them and soak them in salt water over night, then brown them in a cast iron skillet and pop them into a slow cooker with some veggies and wine for a great stew.

That’s it so far this year. Keep in mind the dry conditions and be careful with fires and smoking materials while afield, and good luck.

Capt Don

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Get Well Rocky

Captain Rocky Gauron, Owner of Gauron Fishing Fleet Had a heart attack this past week and is at Portsmouth Regional hospital. I haven’t  Gotten all the information yet except he is stable. I’ve known Rocky for years, he’s a stand up guy and wish him well and a speedy recovery.

D.

Good Luck Renada

Where ever you are.