Jeffrey Arkebauer of Scott City, Kan., shot a 494-pound male bear in Sandwich, N.H. with a .30-30 caliber handgun. It was the heaviest bear taken in the state this year and tied the previous record, set in 1997.

Also a record 524 black bears were taken in New Hampshire this fall according to the preliminary tally. The total surpasses the previous record of 499 bears set in 1999. This fall\'s harvest included 304 males and 220 females.

The bear harvest was close to the Fish & Game Department\'s goal for managing black bears in regions throughout the state, according to Kip Adams, the bear project leader. In the White Mountains region, 195 bears were taken, well above the five-year average of 123 bears. In the central region, 153 bears were taken, also above the 5 year average of 106. Both regions had bear populations that exceeded management plan goals, so the above average harvest rate was desirable, Adams said.

Granite State Deer Kill Down 16 Percent

The New Hampshire deer kill was about 16 percent below last year\'s. The numbers are still preliminary and may change up or down, but will likely be close. During the deer seasons that ended Dec. 15, hunters took 9,129 deer. The kill is 15 percent below the five-year average.

\"We knew this year\'s deer harvest would be lower than last year\'s,\" biologist Kip Adams said. \"The department\'s Big Game Team had predicted a 15 to 20 percent reduction in this year\'s harvest. The main influencing factors were the severity of the 2000-2001 winter and its impact on the deer herd, and the Department\'s season restrictions because of the winter. We had to reduce the number of days hunters could take antlerless deer to protect the does and rebuild the herd.\"

A significant part of this year\'s deer harvest came during the rifle season, Adams said, more so than in the past few years. \"The deer I checked appeared to have adequate fat reserves, which is a sign of this year\'s good mast crop.

\"The antlers were a little smaller than normal, and that\'s a reflection of this past winter. The deer were unable to put much nutrition into antler growth during spring and early summer, as they needed all the nutrition for body maintenance after the hard winter.\"

One big deer taken this fall was a 264-pound buck shot in Lisbon, N.H. during the muzzleloader season by Michael Colby of Lyman, N.H.

Kip Adams Leaves New Hampshire To Return Home

Kip Adams, who has led the bear and deer projects in New Hampshire since 1999, is moving to his home state of Pennsylvania to manage private lands for deer, and also to pursue a long-held interest in taxidermy. Taking Adams\' place as deer project leader will be Kent Gustafson, who has been the department\'s biometrician since 1993. The department is seeking another biologist as leader of the bear and small game projects.

In case your are interested, a biometrician analyzes wildlife population dynamics.

\"We\'ll miss Kip,\" said Wildlife Division Chief Steve Weber. \"He added a real sense of enthusiasm to our programs. His competence and energy will certainly be missed. The deer project, however, will be in good hands, as Kent has been a valuable member of the Big Game Team since its inception and is very familiar with deer management in New Hampshire.

Vermont Deer Kill Surpasses 14,000

The reports continue to trickle in to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and, as of last Wednesday, the deer kill has reached 14,139. My earlier prediction that the rifle kill would not break 7,000 was wrong as it now stands at 7,108.

Wednesday\'s numbers were: archery - 3,461, youth - 795, rifle - 7,108 and muzzleloader - 2,775.

The bear kill is 520 and may reach the record 524 set in New Hampshire.

Snowmobile Riders, It is Up To You

Snowmobilers are hitting the trails and officials offer a reminder to ride safely and responsibly. The vast majority of the riding is done on private lands and gaining and keeping landowner permission is a constant effort. The future use of those trails depends on the snowmobilers.

Snowmobilers have a responsibility to obey the rules of the trails, to be courteous and to ride safely. Law enforcement officers will be on the trails in Vermont and New Hampshire this winter enforcing the laws, but they can not be everywhere. It is up to snowmobilers to police themselves. The future of the sport depends on good landowner relations.

Parting Shots

I am suffering through the trials and tribulations of owning big dogs. Birch, our St. Bernard, is the main problem. At eight-and-a-half months, he weighs 147 pounds and still has the rambunctiousness of a puppy.

Thursday night I got home from work late, plowed the road and shoveled the paths and the deck then sat down to relax and read the papers and mail. Buck, our cat, was stretched out under the newly decorated Christmas tree. Birch decided to nuzzle Buck as he commonly does. However, in the process, he got caught up in the beaded garland. Birch backed out, taking the garland and three of the ornaments with him.

I jumped out of my chair to save the tree, putting the paper and my glasses on the hassock. As I was on my knees picking up the ornaments and hangers, Birch went over and sat on the hassock and the paper and my glasses.

I heard the crunch and my stomach twitched as I knew I was in trouble. There sat Birch on my glasses looking for all the world as if nothing had happened. My scolding seemed to baffle him. After all, he always sits on the hassock.

Over the weekend I did some snowshoeing with Birch and that, too, was an experience. He would bound through the snow ahead of me then circle around to follow in my tracks for a while. I would be moving along at a good pace when I would come to a sudden stop while experiencing a painful pulling in the groin, my rearward snowshoe anchored by Birch.

He would look up at me as if to ask why I stopped. I, in turn, would curse him.

Over and over, the same thing happened. Birch seemed to wait until I was again moving rapidly and I had nearly forgotten the pain. Each time I was reminded of Fern and how she used to stand on my snowshoes, stopping me in mid stride.

You would think I would learn

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