NEW HAMPSHIRE

Deer Forecast 2004 -- EAST

Outdoor Life Online Editor

With two of the past four winters being fairly severe, the deer population has been in a state of flux. In 2003, hunters harvested 9,492 deer, a 14 percent reduction from 2002. This year, however, things are looking up, especially since the winter was rather mild.

"We're expecting our harvest to come up some from last year," says Kent Gustafson, deer project leader of the state Fish and Game Department. "The population should be higher than it was last fall."

For 2004, the FGD has made the entire archery season an either-sex affair throughout the state and added either-sex days in certain WMUs during the muzzleloader and rifle seasons.

Look for the best deer numbers along the lower Connecticut River and in the southeastern corner, where populations are high. Wall-hangers can pop up anywhere, since 28 percent of the bucks harvested are 3 years old or older. Last year, the state-record typical muzzleloader buck was taken near Merrimack. It scored 1816/8, making it the second-largest whitetail ever harvested in New Hampshire.