Hunters in New Hampshire had near-record success with deer this year, but the story was different with wild turkeys and bears, largely because there was so much food in the woods that those species had an easier time hiding.

“Bear – they’re far less vulnerable when there are abundant fall foods. We had a bumper crop of acorns, beech nuts, berries,” said Kent Gustafson, wildlife programs administrator for New Hampshire Fish and Game. “Turkey are kind of like bear: When there’s a lot of food out there, hunters don’t see them as much as when they’re wandering all over the place, looking for food.”

Hunters reported killing 586 black bears during the season, which ran from Sept. 1 through November. That is 23 percent fewer than the five-year average and one-third fewer than the 2016 tally, which was the highest on record, according to Fish and Game’s preliminary data.

Andrew Timmins, N.H. Fish and Game bear biologist, said the decline was not a sign of a shrinking bear population. New Hampshire has an estimated 6,000 bears.

The fall wild turkey season, which ran from September through October in most of the state except for the northernmost areas, showed a very sharp decline in success rate: Just 434 turkeys were killed, compared to 1,101 taken in 2016.

From the Concord Monitor.