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Wear Orange: Pandemic Creates Surge in Hunting and Fishing Interest

photo of man hunting a gamebird
Upland New England

The coronavirus is sending more residents into the woods and onto the water, as they seek to reconnect with the land or just get out of the house.

N.H. Fish and Game processed more than 87,600 resident fishing licenses through September, a 35 percent jump from the same period last year.

The agency has processed more than 7,700 resident hunting licenses this year, an 18 percent increase from 2019.

“Yeah, it was unbelievable,” said Tim Moore, who operates Tim Moore Outdoors, a fishing guide service on Lake Winnipesaukee, that saw its business increase by 50 percent this year.

“I just thought, stimulus money and boredom,” said Moore. “And I thought as soon as the stimulus checks got spent, that I’d stop seeing new clients, and my phone just never stopped ringing.”

In Hillsborough, New England Upland, a regulated shooting preserve with a focus on pheasants and other game birds, also recorded a jump in business.

“A lot of the people that are just getting involved in the sport for the first time are starting to understand where their food comes from, and the fact that there is a getting back to nature movement,” said owner Scott Rouleau, who also operates a hunting guide service.

“People want to go out, harvest some game, see how to prepare it, put together a nice meal for their families, so they are feeling more connected to the land and the animals.”

Roleau said he’s seeing people simply come and walk his land, or hunters will bring guests as a way to spend time together while social distancing.

New Hampshire’s surge in hunting and fishing isn’t unique: states across the nation, including Maine and Vermont, are also reporting an uptick in license sales this year.

Despite travel restrictions and intermittent quarantining rules during the COVID-19 pandemic, New Hampshire also saw an uptick in non-resident licenses, with both hunting and fishing permits growing by about 20 percent.

The uptick in hunting suggests at least a temporary pause on the sport's long-term decline. Nationwide, the number of hunters has dropped since the 1990s, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University. He can be reached at tbookman@nhpr.org.
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