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Deer Hunting

Deer are New Hampshire’s most popular game animal, with a total of more than 80,000 deer found in all areas of the state. NH has a long archery season starting September 15, a muzzleloader season 11 days prior to the firearms season, and a firearms season during the peak of the rut. (See the chart for “any deer” days, when hunters may take a doe or a buck.) A Special Unit M permit allows hunters to take additional antlerless deer in WMU-M.

2012 Deer Hunting Seasons


Inclusive Dates

Wildlife Management Units


Any deer

Sept. 15–Dec. 8

WMU A — NOTE: Archery deer season ends one week early.

Any deer

Sept. 15–Dec. 15

B – M


Antlered deer only

Nov. 3–Nov. 13

A–D1, D2-east, E, F, G2, I1, I2, J1

Any deer

Nov. 3–Nov. 4

D2-west, G1

Antlered deer only

Nov. 5–Nov. 13

Any deer

Nov. 3–Nov. 5

H1, H2, J2, K

Antlered deer only

Nov. 6–Nov. 13

Any deer

Nov. 3–Nov. 13

L, M


Antlered only

Nov. 14–Dec. 2

WMU A — NOTE: Firearm deer season ends one week early.

Antlered deer only

Nov. 14–Dec. 9

B–D1, D2-east, E, F, G2, I1, I2, J1

Any deer

Nov. 14–Nov. 15

D2-west, G1, H1, H2, J2, K

Antlered deer only

Nov. 16–Dec. 9

Any deer

Nov. 14–Nov. 23

L, M

Antlered deer only

Nov. 24–Dec. 9

Antlerless deer only

4,000 permittees in Unit M; See “Special Unit M Permit” at right.

Youth Hunt

Oct. 27 & 28 any deer statewide; see Youth Hunting.


Antlered Deer: Deer with at least one antler three (3) inches long.

Any Deer: All deer regardless of sex or age.

Deer Hunting Licensing Requirements

All hunters, with the exception of those eligible to use the special deer tag, must have a valid deer tag that has not been detached from their license/permit. Deer may be hunted using a variety of licenses and tags as described below.

Archery License: allows the taking of one deer of either sex during the archery deer season.

Regular Hunting or Combination License: allows the taking of one deer during the regular firearms deer season (Wildlife Management Unit restrictions apply).

Muzzleloader License: allows the holder of a Regular Hunting or Combination License to take a deer using a muzzleloader during the special muzzleloading deer season, using the firearms deer tag. Nonresident youths must purchase this license to participate in the muzzleloader season. This license does not include a separate tag.

Deer Crossbow License: allows the holder of a Regular NH Hunting License to take a deer with a crossbow during the regular firearms deer season, using the firearms deer tag. This license does not include a separate tag.

Special Archery Deer Permit: allows the taking of one additional antlered deer using bow and arrow during the archery deer season. Each hunter is limited to one of these permits. Archery hunters may only buy this permit when purchasing their regular archery license. This permit may be used to tag the first or second deer taken by archery if it is legally antlered. All ages.

Special Unit M Permit: allows the taking of antlerless deer in WMU M, in addition to deer taken using a Regular NH Hunting or Archery License. It may be used on any day, including antlered deer only days, during any deer season the hunter holds a license for (archery, muzzleloader or firearm). Method of take limited to what is legal for particular season being hunted. All ages. Note: A total of up to 4,000 hunters will be allowed to purchase Special Antlerless Deer Permits for Unit M. At the time of purchase, hunters may opt for a permit with 1 deer tag ($13) or two deer tags ($26).

Long Island and Governor’s Island Deer Permits: allows the taking of deer on Long and Governor’s Islands, respectively. Written landowner permission required on forms available at the Region 2 office in New Hampton or at Headquarters in Concord. Many special restrictions apply; see All ages.

Deer Hunting Regulations

Hunting Hours: ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset.

Deer must be registered at the closest open registration station within 24 hours. Deer must be accompanied and registered by person that took deer. See a listing of stations. A conservation officer may request to see the head and hide of a deer taken under an archery license within 48 hours of killing. It is unlawful to hunt deer with a rimfire firearm. No shotgun ammunition, other than slugs or 00 or larger buckshot, may be used to take deer. Exception: Buckshot is prohibited for taking deer in Auburn, Chester, Greenland, Newington, Portsmouth and Stratham.


Both the archery and firearms deer seasons close one week earlier than the rest of the state.


Any deer may be taken on the regular archery deer license during the archery season.

Archers must have their name and address on arrows. Fixed blade broadheads cannot be less than inches wide and not more than 1½ inches wide. Retractable blade broadheads are permitted (must be not less than of an inch wide when open). Minimum draw weight for deer is 40 lbs.

Muzzleloader Season

To hunt deer during the muzzleloader season, a person needs a Regular NH Hunting License, plus a Muzzleloader License. A muzzleloader is defined as a single barrel, single shot firearm (40 caliber or greater) that can only be loaded from the muzzle. Only one deer may be taken with a muzzleloader or firearm with the firearm tag. No person shall have in possession, while taking deer during the muzzleloader season, more than one muzzleloading rifle and one muzzleloading handgun. No separate muzzleloader tag is issued.

AntLered/Any Deer—Definitions

  • Antlered Deer: Deer with at least one antler three (3) inches long.
  • Any Deer: All deer regardless of sex or age.


A crossbow means a device consisting of a bow mounted to a rigid stock for discharging quarrels, bolts, or arrows and having a mechanical means to hold and release the drawn string. A bolt means a short projectile for a crossbow that resembles an arrow.

A crossbow shall have a minimum pull of 125 pounds, a working mechanical safety and a stock no less than 25 inches in length.

See License Information for more information on crossbow permits.

Bear Brook Refuge

Deer may be hunted in the Bear Brook Refuge with bow and arrow only by persons holding a valid Archery License. No firearms are allowed in Bear Brook Refuge.

Chronic Wasting Disease

To help prevent the introduction of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) into New Hampshire, the importation of hunter-killed white-tailed, black-tailed or mule deer, moose and elk carcasses or parts of such carcasses from CWD-positive jurisdictions is prohibited except for: de-boned meat; antlers; antlers attached to skull caps from which all soft tissue has been removed; upper canine teeth (also known as “buglers,” “whistlers” or “ivories”) from which all soft tissue has been removed; hides or capes with no part of the head attached; finished taxidermy mounts; and tissues prepared and packaged for use by diagnostic or research laboratories. CWD-positive jurisdictions include: In the U.S., Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming; in Canada, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge

A 2-day deer hunt will be held Nov. 17 and 18, 2012 on the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Applications and information on procedures and fees will be available after Aug. 1, from: Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, 6 Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport, MA 01950, (978) 465-5753. Hunters must have a valid firearms deer tag or Special Unit M tag to participate. Send completed application to: NH Fish and Game Dept., 11 Hazen Drive, Concord, NH 03301, Attn: Wildlife Div. Application must be received by 4 p.m., September 28, 2012, or be postmarked by September 21, 2012.

It Is Unlawful To:

  • hunt deer with a .22 or smaller rimfire firearm, or with shot loads smaller than 00 buckshot.
  • kill any deer with antlers less than 3 inches during the Antlered Only deer season.
  • use 100% salt products as bait for deer hunting.
  • have more than 6 people participate in a joint drive for deer.
  • hunt deer or bear on islands, or in the water of any lake or pond in the state;
  • leave a deer in the woods for more than 12 hours without notifying a Conservation Officer as to the location and reason for not removing the deer.
  • buy, sell or offer for sale a deer or any part thereof, other than the head, hide or feet.
  • possess a deer that hasn’t been properly tagged.
  • hunt with a detached deer tag. Upon killing a deer, the tag shall be immediately detached, filled out and attached to the deer.
  • assist another in taking a deer after you have taken one, unless you possess a valid unused tag or are accompanying a minor.

If you are using a special deer permit, you are not allowed to take two deer at the same time. The first deer taken must be registered before you attempt to take a second deer.

Towns With Special Rules

Deer hunting is allowed only by shotgun, muzzleloading rifle, handguns in calibers .357 Magnum, 10mm Automatic, .41 Remington, .44 Magnum, .45 Long Colt, .480 Ruger or .50 Magnum, or bow and arrow or crossbow in the following towns:

Belknap: Laconia; Meredith Neck: the part from the Meredith-Center Harbor line to Pleasant Street south and east of Route 25.

Hillsborough: Amherst; Bedford; Brookline; Goffstown; Hollis; Hudson; Litchfield; Manchester; Merrimack; Milford; Nashua; Pelham.

Merrimack: Concord; Hooksett: that part lying from the town line of Allenstown, on the westerly side of Route 3, to a point where the old Portsmouth Railroad crosses the highway, then south of the railroad to the town line of Candia; Pembroke: that part lying south westerly of the following line: starting at the Concord town line at Red Bridge on Rte. 106, south to Burrough (Borough) Road, then easterly on Burrough (Borough) Road to Fourth Range Road, then southerly on Fourth Range Road to Dudley Hill Road, south on Dudley Hill Road to Buck Street, northeast on Buck Street to Route 28, south on Route 28 to the Allenstown town line. (See Bow, below).

Rockingham: Atkinson; Auburn*; Brentwood; Chester*; Danville; Derry; East Kingston; Exeter; Fremont; Greenland*; Hampstead; Hampton; Hampton Falls; Kensington; Kingston; Londonderry; New Castle; Newfields; Newington*; Newmarket; Newton; North Hampton; Plaistow; Portsmouth*; Rye; Salem; Sandown; Seabrook; South Hampton; Stratham*; Windham.

Strafford: Durham; Madbury; Lee; Dover; Rollinsford; Somersworth.

* Buckshot prohibited for taking deer in these towns (RSA 208:3-a,b,c).

Additional Restrictions

Bow: All hunting is forbidden in the following area with any firearm other than a shotgun, muzzleloading rifle or bow and arrow or crossbow: southeast from the Concord-Bow boundary line along the west bank of the Merrimack River, then westerly along the Bow-Hooksett boundary line, then northerly along I-93, then westerly along Robinson Road, then northwest along Branch Londonderry Turnpike East, then southerly along Woodhill Road, then southwesterly along Dunbarton Center Road to the Bow-Dunbarton boundary line, then northwesterly along the Bow-Dunbarton boundary line to the Bow-Hopkinton boundary line, then easterly along the Bow-Hopkinton boundary line to the Bow-Concord boundary line, then southeasterly and easterly along the Bow-Concord boundary line to the west bank of the Merrimack River.


Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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