Karen Bordeaux: (603) 744-5470
Jacob De Bow: (603) 788-3164
September 26, 2022
Concord, New Hampshire – Hunting season for the ruffed grouse, New Hampshire’s most sought-after upland game bird, begins October 1 and runs through December 31. Woodcock season also begins on October 1 and ends on November 14. Karen, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Small Game Project Leader, Bordeau notes that 68% of New Hampshire’s small game effort was focused on ruffed grouse and 18% on woodcock in 2021, and that more Half of that effort is carried out in the North Region. New Hampshire offers some of the best deep-sea bird hunting in New England, especially in the northern third of the state.
Hunter effort and observations are derived from our Small Game Survey. “Viewing rates in 2021 indicate that sage grouse continue to be most abundant in the northern part of the state,” Bordeau said. “In 2021, we received 151 surveys, and small game hunters with the help of a dog saw 1.35 grouse per hunting hour in the Northern Region.” Roadside drum counts in spring are used to assess regional trends in breeding populations of grouse. The highest densities of capercaillies are found in the Northern Region. In the spring of 2022, the number of percussive events heard per stop increased slightly in the North White Mountain and Southeast regions, decreased in the Central region, and remained the same in the Southwest region of the state. “These numbers routinely rise and fall and low temperatures during the morning of the surveys may have delayed the drumming of the grouse during the survey period,” Bordeau said. “Long-term trends can be seen in the 2021/2022 Small Game Summary Report.”
The 2022 grouse season is expected to be similar to last year, with a dry spring in 2022 leading to strong breeding. Hatchling size appears to be average this year as reported by sportsmen and biologists alike. Fall mast crops will determine where the grouse will be in the field, and finding pockets of available food that the grouse focus on will be helpful to the hunter’s success.
Woodcock’s season is expected to be similar to last year. Woodcock’s song terrain survey trails provide an index of the overall abundance of resident male songbirds and population trends. In 2022, woodcock density patterns varied across the state. The number of woodcocks heard per stop increased in the North, Southwest and Southeast Regions, remained the same in the White Mountain region, decreased in the Central region. this spring. Long-term trends are represented in the 2021/2022 Small Game Summary Report.
Woodcock hunters are reminded that they need a free National Migratory Bird Harvest Information (HIP) certification number in order to legally hunt woodcock.
All small game hunters are encouraged to participate in Fish and Game’s annual Small Game Survey, and successful grouse hunters are encouraged to participate in the New Hampshire Wings and Tail Survey. Those interested in participating can obtain small game survey packets by calling Fish and Game at (603) 271-2461, and grouse wing and tail packets can be picked up at participating locations listed at https:// /wildlife.state.nh.us/surveys/ruffed-grouse.html. These surveys provide valuable information on the status of grouse and other small game species in New Hampshire. As an incentive to participate in the New Hampshire surveys, Ruger Arms and The Ruffed Grouse Society again generously agreed to provide a randomly selected participant in each of these surveys with a firearm.
Regional and long-term trends for capercaillie and woodcock can be seen in the 2021/2022 Small Game Summary Report showing detailed graphs by region and across the state. The report can be viewed at www.huntnh.com/hunting/publications.html. A new brochure outlines the long-term trends for our two popular game birds in a summary format with a statewide index and a focus on the Northern Region, and highlights from last year’s grouse wing and tail survey.