Deer Hunting Regulations
Deer are New Hampshire’s most popular game animal, with a total of approximately 100,000 deer found throughout the state. New Hampshire 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.) Special Unit L permits allow hunters to take an additional antlerless deer in WMU L. Special Unit M permits allow hunters to take two additional antlerless deer in WMU M. For more information, visit www.huntnh.com/hunting/deer.html.
Deer Hunting Licensing Requirements
All hunters, with the exception of those eligible to use the special deer tag (see Special Deer/Bear Tag (PDF)), 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 (for more details, see License Information):
Archery License: allows the taking of one deer of either sex during the archery deer season. A crossbow may also be used in WMU-M only.
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 N.H. Hunting or Combination License to take a deer using a muzzleloader or crossbow during the special muzzleloading deer season, using the firearms deer tag. Nonresident youths and resident landowners must purchase this license to participate in the muzzleloader season. This license does not include a separate tag.
Annual Deer Crossbow Permit: Allows the holder of a regular N.H. Hunting or Combination 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. The Annual Deer Crossbow permit can be purchased at Fish and Game headquarters, or an application form is available under Other Related Forms of the Hunting License Forms tab at wildnh.com/licensing/forms.html.
Special Archery Deer Permit: allows the taking of on additional antlered deer using bow and arrow during the archery season. A crossbow may also be used in WMU-M only. 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 L Permit: allows the taking of antlerless deer in WMU L, in addition to deer taken using a Regular N.H. 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 the particular season being hunted. All ages. Note: A total of 2,000 hunters were allowed to purchase Special Antlerless Deer Permits for WMU L, with one deer tag ($26). Unit L permits are issued through an online lottery. The application period was open July 8–21. Permits were available for purchase starting August 5 for all lottery winners and must be purchased by September 1, 2020.
Special Unit M Permit: allows the taking of antlerless deer in WMU M, in addition to deer taken using a Regular N.H. 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 WMU M; the permit comes with two deer tags ($36). Available July 22 online and at NHFG Headquarters, first come, first serve basis.
Long Island and Governor’s Island Deer Permits:
These permits allow 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 Fish and Game headquarters in Concord. Many special restrictions. All ages. For more information, contact the Wildlife Division at 603-271-2461.
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 the person who took the deer. See Deer/Turkey Registration Stations for 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. Crossbows may be used to take deer during the regular archery season in WMU M only.
Archers and crossbow hunters must have their name and address on arrows or bolts. Fixed blade broadheads cannot be less than ⅞ inches wide and not more than 1½ inches wide. Retractable blade broadheads are permitted (cannot be less than ⅞ of an inch wide when open). Minimum draw weight for deer is 40 lbs.
Bowhunters may legally carry a sidearm, but may not use the sidearm to assist in taking a deer.
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. Name and address must be plainly marked on the crossbow bolt. Allowable sizes of broadheads are outlined in Archery Season section above.
See License Information for more information on crossbow permits.
To hunt deer during the muzzleloader season, a person needs a Regular N.H. 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 using a muzzleloader or crossbow with the firearm tag during the muzzleloader season. No separate muzzleloader tag is issued. No person shall have in possession, while taking deer during the muzzleloader season, more than one muzzleloading rifle or one muzzleloading handgun. In NH a muzzleloader is defined as a firearm—therefore a felon may not possess a muzzleloader.
Deer Baiting Season
- Antlered Deer: Deer with at least one antler three (3) or more inches long.
- Any Deer: All deer regardless of sex or age.
Bear Brook Refuge
Deer may be hunted in the Bear Brook Refuge with bow and arrow only by persons holding a valid Archery License.
Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Deer hunting opportunity is allowed on the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Hunters must obtain a special permit through the US Fish and Wildlife Service and possess any appropriate NH hunting licenses and tags to participate. For more information, go to https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Great_Bay/visit/visitor_activities.html or contact the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, 6 Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport, MA 01950, or call (978) 465-5753.
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 without notifying a Conservation Officer within 12 hours 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 youth under 16 years of age.
- Hunt deer with an air rifle.
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 (pistols permitted under this section shall be loaded with no more than five rounds of ammunition at any time):
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).
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.
Areas Prohibiting Use of Rifles While Deer Hunting
Taking Two Deer
Hunters must legally register their first deer before attempting to take a second.
Did you know?
It is unlawful to pick up any wildlife killed by motor vehicle without authorization from local or state police or N.H. Fish and Game.