New Hampshire Fish & Game’s annual moose hunt is set to begin this weekend here in the Granite State. The nine-day event starts Saturday, Oct. 20 and ends Oct. 28.
Permits are required to hunt moose in N.H., and if you don’t have one for this year, unfortunately it’s too late to get one. Permits are distributed through a lottery, and this year 275 received one. Another five were auctioned off to the highest bidder, with the proceeds going to the Wildlife Heritage Foundation of New Hampshire.
Each year, hunters are assigned to one of 22 wildlife management units around the state. If hunters are successful in taking a moose (last year, 71 percent were), they must take the animal to a special station where it’s registered and inspected to collect information on the overall health of the herd.
It might be hard to believe now, but a little more than a century ago, moose were scarce in New Hampshire. After years of work, the herd had grown to at least 1,600 moose by 1988, the year that the first modern moose hunt was held. Today, there are around 5,000 moose in the state. The annual moose hunt is an important part of managing the state’s moose herd and its effect on the habitat, according to Kris Rines, the moose project leader for Fish & Game.
“Moose do eat a lot of food and if their numbers get to be significant, they can dramatically influence their habitat,” said Rines, a longtime SEA/SEIU 1984 member. That influence includes affecting the growth of other species, and even the growth of the forest itself.
But beyond controlling the population, Rines pointed out another good reason for the annual hunt: It’s a chance for residents to harvest something that is organic and to do it in a way that doesn’t adversely affect the habitat. She also noted that moose meat has the lowest cholesterol level of any red meat available in the U.S.
Here are some quick facts about the moose hunt, provided by Fish & Game:
- The heaviest moose taken in 2011 was a 930-pound bull shot in Pittsburg by Richard Matthews, of Nashua, on the second day of the season.
- Average dressed weight of all yearling bulls taken in 2011 was 435 pounds. The average dressed weight of all bulls aged 5.5 and older in 2011 was 726 pounds.
- The largest bull moose ever taken in N.H. weighed in at 1,040 pounds, dressed weight, taken in 1993. Live weight of this moose would have been approximately 1,400 pounds. The largest cow ever taken dressed at 815 pounds. These two animals came from Zone A2 and both were taken in 1993.
- Greatest antler spread measurement for moose taken in New Hampshire is 68.5 inches, taken in A-2 in 2010 by Jack Middleton.
- Moose have been taken with the use of conventional firearms and archery, handguns, muzzleloaders (including flintlocks) and the longbow. In 2011, 97% of hunters took their moose using conventional firearms (rifle or shotgun).
- 58% of the harvest occurred in the first 3 days of the 2011 season.