General Hunting Regulations
New Hampshire Hunting
A baiting permit is required for any bait site. Baiting permit applications (no fee) are available at any Fish and Game office or online at huntnh.com/licensing/forms.html. Applications for permits to bait wildlife on private property must be signed by the private landowner. No bait shall be placed until two copies of the bait permit and map have been submitted to the Wildlife Division at Fish and Game headquarters in Concord. No bait may be placed from April 15 through August 31 (dates inclusive). Bait may not be placed at any site until the baiting season for that species is open.
- A landowner placing bait on his or her own property does not need to submit a baiting permit or map, but they must meet all the other requirements listed below regarding the use of bait.
- No person, except a licensed NH Hunting Guide, shall have more than 2 active bait sites statewide. A licensed NH Hunting Guide shall have no more than 8 active bait sites, 6 for commercial use and up to 2 for personal use.
- Licensed NH Hunting Guides must indicate on the bait permit if the site is for commercial or personal use.
- Any bear taken off a commercial site must be tagged with a bear guide tag.
- A licensed guide can only use his/her guide tags on bears taken off commercial bait sites which are under his/her name.
- No bear taken off a personal site can be tagged with a bear guide tag.
- A baited area shall not be considered an active bait site when all containers used to hold bait, such as barrels, plastic bags, pails and boxes, and any bait material are completely removed.
- Applications for baiting permits on private land must be received by the Department by the first Monday in August for bear, and the first Monday in October for all other species.
- It is the permittee’s responsibility to see that two copies of the bait permit are submitted to the Wildlife Division at Fish and Game headquarters in Concord.
- The baiting permit must have a detailed topographical map, including a description of the location of the bait site and how to locate it. (If the map is so vague that a CO cannot find the site, the permit is invalid.)
- Only the person to whom the permit is issued is permitted to place bait at the site.
- The permittee must post a 3″ x 6″ durable sign at the site with the name and address of the permittee and up to 2 subpermittees. These 3 individuals are the only persons allowed to hunt with aid of the bait site. A licensed N.H. Hunting Guide must post a sign with his or her own name and address, but is not required to post the names of paying clients. The sign must be clearly visible not higher than 6 feet off the ground. If no subpermittees are identified on the sign, they may not be included at a later date. Once the sign has been posted, it may not be altered at a later date. No person other than the permittee authorized to place bait at a site shall remove, alter, or destroy said sign.
- Bait may not be placed less than 300 feet from a dwelling, public roadway, pathway, or trail.
- From the close of the bear baiting season through December 15, baiting for coyote shall be restricted to the use of meat, animal parts, carrion or fish.
- No person shall place bait in public waters or on ice-covered public waters.
- It is illegal to bait for turkey, moose or migratory waterfowl.
- Permits expire at the end of the calendar year, unless an earlier date has been specified on the permit form, or the season has ended for the species identified on the baiting permit.
- When requested by a CO, a permittee or an applicant to bait must accompany the officer to the proposed or existing site.
Baiting Rules for State-owned and State-managed Lands
In addition to the General Baiting Rules, the following rules apply to State-owned and State-managed lands:
- A baiting permit is required for any bait site on State-owned or State-managed lands, including White Mountain National Forest.
- Applicants may apply for bait sites on State-owned or State-managed lands beginning the first Monday in June through the first Monday in August for bear and deer. Applicants may apply beginning December 1 for permits to bait coyote for the year following. Permit applications for all other species shall be accepted at any time.
- Applications must be filled out completely, and must include a detailed map and directions to the bait site to be considered. Baiting permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis, except permits for the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Forest will be issued by lottery starting in 2017 (visit wildnh.com/hunting/baiting-wildlife.html for more information). One copy of the bait permit application shall be submitted to the Law Enforcement Division at Fish and Game headquarters in Concord.
- No person, including a licensed N.H. Hunting Guide, shall have more than 1 active bait site within an individual trapping unit. Visit huntnh.com for details regarding trapping units.
- Non-edible or non-digestible materials shall not be used as bait.
- Starting in 2017, a total of 40 active bear bait sites will be allowed on the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters property in Pittsburg, NH.
- Also see Tree stands/Blinds.
In addition to all other applicable baiting rules, the following rules apply to baiting for bear:
- No person, except a licensed N.H. Hunting Guide, shall place bait for the purpose of attracting and taking bear at more than 2 bait sites statewide.
- No person, except a licensed N.H. Hunting Guide, shall have more than one bait site for bear in the combined area of WMUs A, B, D1, H1, H2, I2, K, L, and M.
- No person shall establish, tend, or hunt bear over a bait containing chocolate or any cocoa derivative. White chocolate may be used as bait.
In addition to all other applicable baiting rules, the following rules apply to baiting for deer:
- No person, except a licensed N.H. Hunting Guide, shall place bait for the purpose of attracting and taking deer at more than 2 bait sites statewide.
- No person shall place bait for the purpose of attracting and taking deer prior to the opening of the deer baiting season.
- Persons holding a Disabled Veteran License or Paraplegic License may bait deer from September 15 through December 15, statewide.
If you find a dead deer, bear, moose or turkey you did not kill, do not tag or move it. Road killed wildlife may not be taken without permission of a law enforcement officer. Call Law Enforcement Dispatch at (603) 271-3361.
Discharge Restrictions/Compact Areas (RSA 207: 3-a & 644:13)
- It is illegal to discharge a firearm or shoot with a bow and arrow or crossbow and bolt within 300 feet of a permanently occupied dwelling without permission of the owner or occupant, or from the owner of the land on which the person shooting the firearm, bow and arrow, or crossbow and bolt is situated. A firearm may not be discharged within 300 feet of any commercial, educational or medical building, or outdoor public gathering place.
- Firearms may not be discharged within the compact area of any town or city (any contiguous area containing 6 or more buildings used as part time or permanent dwellings where each is within 300 feet of one of the other buildings, plus a 300 foot wide perimeter around all of the buildings).
- It is unlawful to discharge a firearm, bow and arrow, or crossbow and bolt within 15′ of the traveled portion of, or across any class I through V highway, or from or across the following public highways (including the rights of way): I-93, I-89, I-95, 293, 393, Rte. 202/9 (from Rte. 114 in Henniker to Rte. 31 in Hillsboro), Rte. 16 (from I-95 to Milton/Middleton town line), Rte. 3/F.E. Everett Turnpike (from Mass. line to Rte. 101 Bedford), Rte. 101 (from Bedford town line to Rte. 1 Hampton).
Additional regulations apply to licensed N.H. Hunting Guides. Contact the Law Enforcement Division at (603) 271-3127.
Interstate transportation of wildlife taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of a state law is a violation of federal law. The penalty can be up to $250,000 and 5 years in prison.
Leashed Dog Trackers
Volunteer leashed dog trackers are private citizens who can help track and recover wounded deer, moose and bear. They are licensed by the Fish and Game Department for this activity, which may take place at night. Give them a call, they can help. Visit huntnh.com for a list of licensed leashed dog trackers.
Use of OHRVs (ATV, trail bike, UTV) requires written landowner permission unless on a sanctioned ATV trail and must be registered when operating off your own property. No person shall carry on an OHRV, or a trailer towed by the same, any firearm unless it is unloaded. This does not apply to pistols being carried under a permit issued pursuant to RSA 159.
Written landowner permission is required for any tree stand, ladder or observation blind which damages or destroys a tree by inserting into the tree any metallic, ceramic, or other object. Written landowner permission is also required if any tree is cut in conjunction with the use of any stand or blind or to construct a pit blind. These permits can be found at huntnh.com/licensing/forms.html under “Miscellaneous Permits.”
On State-owned and State-managed lands, permanent stands are illegal. Portable stands or blinds may only be erected between August 1 and January 31, and must be removed by January 31.
Town of Bow
Wapack National Wildlife Refuge
This National Wildlife Refuge, located in Greenfield and Temple, NH, is CLOSED to all hunting.
In New Hampshire, we are fortunate that all state, federal, municipal, county, and private land is considered open to hunting unless it is posted against hunting. But remember—hunting is a privilege granted by the landowner—it’s not a right! Don’t take access to private lands for granted; one bad act often results in a “posted” sign that never comes down. Fish and Game encourages hunters to talk with landowners whenever possible.
In general, the best place to start looking for a hunting spot is a good map—like the New Hampshire Atlas and Gazetteer from Delorme or a “topo” map. To find out who owns a piece of land that’s not labeled as a public park or forest, check the tax maps at the town office.
There are three general categories of land ownership in the state, all of which allow hunting with a few exceptions:
- State and Federal Lands: The White Mountain National Forest is the largest piece of public land in the state (751,000 acres). Hunting is permitted throughout the Forest; however, discharging a firearm is prohibited within 150 yards of a campsite, developed recreation site, occupied area, or on or across a Forest Service road or trail. The Forest has roads open to motor vehicles and gated roads open to foot travel only; if you’re willing to hike a longer distance, this gives you a rare opportunity to hunt locations without the normal pressure of more accessible properties. OHRVs are only allowed during winter on designated and officially opened snowmobile trails. For more information, visit fs.fed.us/r9/white. Other large parcels of federal land include the Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge and several units of the Silvio Conte National Wildlife Refuge. Most state lands are open to hunting, including some 75,000 acres of state parks and almost 96,000 acres of state forests. (Always steer clear of recreational areas and trails.) In addition, the N.H. Fish and Game Department owns about 53,000 acres distributed over nearly 100 tracts, most of which are called Wildlife Management Areas or WMAs. Fish and Game also holds conservation easements on more than 19,000 acres. These are parcels of undeveloped land designated as areas for wildlife resource conservation, hunting and fishing. The state also acquired an easement that allows hunting on more than 146,000 acres in the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters area. The Fish and Game website (huntnh.com) has maps and descriptions for the larger WMAs. You can access these on your mobile device through the new Parks by Nature mobile application for New Hampshire.
- Large Private Forest Land: Given N.H.’s long history of open access to forest lands, most large landowners have kept their property open to hunting. Weather conditions can result in unexpected gate closures at any time. Timber management is the primary use on these lands, so please yield the right of way to logging trucks and be respectful and careful around ongoing logging operations. You can help make sure that these lands stay open by treating them well: stay off wet or soft roads; give the right-of-way to logging trucks and equipment; do not park or block any road or barway; respect gated or closed roads; and know the rules regarding use of ATVs. It’s best to make local contacts for information and any special rules about hunting on these private lands.
- Small Private, County, Municipal and Conservation Easement Lands: Eighty percent of New Hampshire’s forest land is privately owned. Access to smaller parcels of private land varies across the state. We recommend that you personally contact the landowner for permission before going hunting on all private land, but particularly smaller parcels. In addition to privately owned parcels, many properties are under conservation easements held by the state, a municipality or nonprofit organization, and some county and municipal lands, like watershed protection areas, are also open to hunting—be sure to check locally for special rules.
If you are hunting in New Hampshire this fall, you can expect to find plenty of great opportunities and places. Now it’s up to you to get outdoors, do some scouting, find the right habitat, figure out where the wildlife spend their time, and be ready for the big day—the woods are waiting!
Check N.H. Fish and Game’s website at huntnh.com for more ideas on where to hunt.
- negligently shoot, wound or kill a human being while hunting, or abandon a wounded or killed human being;
- negligently discharge a firearm or cause death, injury or damage to domestic animals or property while hunting;
- shoot a domestic dog in pursuit of wildlife;
- possess a firearm with ammunition, bow and arrow, or crossbow and bolt while attempting to locate or illuminate wild animals at night at any time of the year, except while coyote night hunting from January 1–March 31, raccoon hunting or checking traps at night;
- illuminate wild animals from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31. Moose, however, may be illuminated between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. from Sept. 1 through the second Monday of October in Coos County on Class I, II and III state highways, and, with city or town permission, on Class IV, V and VI town roads;
- take wildlife by the use of a spring gun or set gun;
- use an unmanned aerial vehicle, such as a drone, to attempt to locate, surveil or aid or assist in the taking of wildlife.
- use “smart rifles” while hunting wildlife (firearms that are electronically controlled, electronically assisted or have a computer-linked trigger that aids the shooter in tracking an animal, or assists in accuracy regarding the placement and timing of the shot).
- use live-action game cameras while attempting to locate, surveil, aid or assist in taking or take any game animal or furbearing animal during the same calendar day while the season is open (cameras that send an electronic message or picture to a handheld device or computer when sensors are triggered by wildlife).
- establish, tend, or hunt bear over a bait containing chocolate or any cocoa derivative.
- hunt from inside of, or upon, any type of motorized vehicle, including aircraft, motor vehicle, snowmobile or OHRV;
- hunt from a boat or canoe before all movement from mechanical power has stopped;
- carry a loaded firearm with ammunition in the chamber, clip or magazine, or cocked crossbow, while the firearm or crossbow is in or on (includes leaning on or contact with) any type of motorized vehicle, moving or stationary; a muzzleloader is considered unloaded if the ignition source (i.e.: primer cap or flint or primer powder) is removed from the firearm;
- enter posted land without permission of the owner or fail to leave when requested;
- willfully tear down, obstruct or leave open any fence, gate or bar belonging to, or enclosing land of, another person, or remove or deface any posted sign or property;
- hunt with a fully automatic firearm. It is also illegal to hunt with a semi-automatic rifle with a clip or magazine holding more than five cartridges (except rimfire rifles and pistols);
- use full-jacketed metal case bullets;
- use telemetry equipment from ½ hour before sunrise through ½ hour after sunset to locate trail or tree hounds while in a motorized vehicle or within 300 feet (as measured from the center of the traveled portion) of any public highway or any private road open to public use;
- buy, sell or offer for sale a deer, bear, moose or any part thereof, other than the head, hide or feet;
- possess a deer, bear, moose or turkey that hasn’t been properly tagged;
- possess a detached deer, bear, moose or turkey tag. Upon killing a deer, bear, moose or turkey, the tag shall be immediately filled out and attached;
- assist another in taking a deer or bear after you have taken one, unless you possess a valid unused tag or are accompanying a minor;
- tag, steal, take or carry away any game belonging to another person.
- dispatch a wounded deer, bear, moose, turkey or other game animal that is not permitted to be taken at night with a firearm, unless you are a licensed dog tracker.