Hunters who legally bagged moose in New Hampshire's northern wilds for the first time since 1901 passed weeping anti-hunting activists as they brought their trophies to weigh stations.

As 75 hunters and their partners stalked the woods during opening day Tuesday, small groups of protesters peacefully demonstrated the three-day season. Twelve animals were taken during the first day."I think in about six months time I'll be wearing this fur in a coat," said William Chapin of Contoocook, proudly posing in the bed of his pickup truck with the 652-pound bull moose he bagged about an hour after the season opened.

"It's unspeakable," said a sobbing Elinor Ware of Northfield, president of the New Hampshire Animal Rights League, who viewed the fresh kill. "We're here to mourn for the moose."

An incomplete count by New Hampshire game officials showed eight bull moose and four cows, or female moose, killed. The largest weighed 940 pounds.

For the first time in 87 years, New Hampshire's North Country was open to a moose hunt for 75 hunters selected in a lottery that attracted more than 6,000 applicants.

The 1987 Legislature approved the hunt at the urging of sportsmen and with the approval of state biologists. Moose hunting was banned in the state at the turn of the century because hunters nearly brought the herd to extinction.