Four new firearms were given away this summer to lucky recipients who took part in Fish and Game’s Small Game and Ruffed Grouse surveys. All this year’s hunters need to do to be eligible to win is to take part in a Fish and Game survey during their hunting season!
Congratulations to the recent winners:
- Linda Tase of New Hampshire won a 10-22 RB Semi-automatic rifle donated by the Sturm Ruger Co. for participation in the Small Game Survey.
- James Buchok of Connecticut won a shotgun donated by the Merrimack Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society for his participation in the Wing and Tail survey.
- Kyle Mack of Vermont won a certificate good for an M77 Ruger Hawkeye rifle donated by Sturm Ruger Co.
- Roger Levitz of New Hampshire won a Thompson Center 50 Caliber Impact muzzleloader donated by Thompson Center Firearms.
Hunter surveys are an integral component of wildlife management. Knowing what species hunters have seen or taken helps wildlife biologists develop hunting seasons that will maintain or change wildlife populations towards goals developed by the public. Hunters are a good source for this information, as they are well distributed across the landscape, occur in relatively high numbers, and tend to be good observers.
The N.H. Fish and Game Department has three different surveys that are vitally important for big and small game season development:
- The Small Game Survey began in 1999. Small game is big business in the state, with about 60% of New Hampshire hunters pursing small game (ruffed grouse, woodcock, snowshoe hare, cottontail and grey squirrel). This hunter survey, when coupled with data generated by Fish and Game staff, has proven to be an efficient means of getting a good understanding of the distribution, abundance and trends of small game species.
- The Ruffed Grouse Wing and Tail Survey dates back to 2005, when a pilot study was introduced to increase knowledge of ruffed grouse, New Hampshire’s most sought-after small game species. Hunters are asked to pick up survey packets at locations throughout the state. Once successful in harvesting a bird, they remove the tail and one of the wings and fill out a short survey. The samples provide Fish and Game with age and sex composition, distribution data, and a juvenile-to-adult female ratio. Each year, the sample size grows and the data gathered is increasingly more important.
- The Deer Hunter Mail Survey was started in 1993. It gathers information on deer, bear, moose and bobcat. Each year, Fish and Game sends out a survey card to all of the previous year’s successful deer hunters and a portion of the successful hunters from two years prior. These hunters are asked to record the number of days and hours hunted, the town and Wildlife Management Unit in which they hunted, the number of deer, bear and bobcat seen during that time, as well as the number of bull, cow and calf moose seen. This gives Fish and Game a great deal of information on relative density patterns and distribution of these species, as well as excellent information on moose population trends over time and adult sex ratio and calf recruitment into the fall population.
“These three surveys are vitally important to successful management of our big and small game species,” said Fish and Game Small Game Project Leader Julie Robinson.
If hunters don’t participate in sufficient numbers, the data greatly decreases in its usefulness. To boost hunter participation, Fish and Game holds an annual raffle for survey participants. The winners, one each for the Small Game and Wing and Tail surveys and two for the Deer Hunter Mail survey, receive an appropriate firearm.
Several generous firms consistently support the surveys by providing prizes. Thompson Center Firearms has donated a muzzleloading firearm to the Deer Hunter Mail Survey raffle since 1993. The Sturm Ruger Company has supplied a rifle in support of the Deer Hunter Mail Survey since 1994, and one for the Small Game survey since 2004. The Ruffed Grouse Society (National or state chapter), has provided a shotgun for the Wing and Tail survey raffle since 2005. “These generous donors definitely help boost hunter participation in our surveys,” said Robinson. Increased hunter survey participation translates into better data, which results in more effective species management.
“If you have not participated in these surveys in the past, we encourage you to do so!” said Robinson. “It doesn’t take a lot of time, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve made an important contribution to better species management.”
To make the most of your survey, pick up a survey form or packet prior to starting your hunting season and fill the survey out at the end of each hunting day.
If you would like to participate in the Small Game survey, you can get a copy of the survey online here or call 603-271-2461. Once you’ve participated, surveys will be automatically mailed to you each fall.
To take part in the Ruffed Grouse Wing and Tail Survey, pick up a packet at any of the Fish and Game offices or selected locations listed on the Fish and Game website. Hunters are asked to fill out a survey card and submit a wing and tail from each harvested bird. Once your season is completed, turn your packet in where you picked it up.
Deer Hunter Mail Surveys are sent out to 16,000 successful hunters prior to the start of the muzzleloader season. If you receive one of these surveys, please fill it out each day that you hunt and send the results back to Fish and Game prior to December 1.
Wildlife research and management in New Hampshire is funded in part by the federal Wildlife Restoration Program, a user-pay, user-benefit program supported by your purchases of firearms, ammunition and archery supplies. Learn more here.