Deer Regulations Overview

New Hampshire's Abundant Deer Population

New Hampshire boasts a thriving deer population, exceeding 100,000. This makes deer the state's most popular game animal, drawing hunters from far and wide.

Archery Season (From September 15)

The hunting season begins with an extended archery season starting on September 15, providing early opportunities for hunters.

Muzzleloader Season (11 Days Before Firearms Season)

A dedicated muzzleloader season begins 11 days before the firearms season, offering a unique hunting experience.

Firearms Season During the Rut

The firearms season is strategically timed to coincide with the rut, maximizing hunting opportunities.

Special Unit L Permits

Hunters in WMU L can obtain Special Unit L permits to harvest an additional antlerless deer, contributing to population management.

Special Unit M Permits

WMU M hunters can acquire Special Unit M permits, allowing them to take two additional antlerless deer, actively participating in population control.

For in-depth details and the latest updates on deer hunting regulations in New Hampshire, visit www.huntnh.com/hunting/deer.html.

Deer Hunting Licensing Requirements

Valid Deer Tags

All hunters, except those eligible for the special deer tag, must possess a valid deer tag that remains attached to their license/permit.

License Options

Archery License

  • Allows the harvest of one deer of either sex during the archery deer season.
  • Crossbows are permitted in WMU L and M.

Regular Hunting or Combination License

  • Allows the taking of one deer during the regular firearms deer season.
  • Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) restrictions apply.

Muzzleloader License

  • Permits the holder of a Regular N.H. Hunting or Combination License to take a deer using a muzzleloader, crossbow, or bow and arrow during the special muzzleloading deer season.
  • Nonresident youths and resident landowners must obtain this license for participation in the muzzleloader season.
  • This license includes the firearms deer tag; no separate tag is needed.

Special Archery Deer Permit

  • Enables the taking of an additional antlered deer using bow and arrow during the archery season.
  • Crossbows are permitted in WMU L or M.
  • Limited to one permit per hunter and may be used to tag the first or second legally antlered deer.
  • Applicable to 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.
  • Usable on any day, including antlered deer only days, during any deer season for which the hunter holds a license (archery, muzzleloader, or firearm).
  • Method of take is restricted to what is legal for the specific season being hunted.
  • Available to hunters of all ages.
  • Note: A total of 3,000 hunters were permitted to purchase Special Antlerless Deer Permits for WMU L, each including one deer tag ($26). Unit L permits are issued through an online lottery, with applications open in early July. Permits were available for purchase starting August 3, 2023, for all lottery winners and must be purchased by August 31, 2023.

Special Unit M Permit

  • Permits the taking of antlerless deer in WMU M, in addition to deer taken using a Regular N.H. Hunting or Archery License.
  • Usable on any day, including antlered deer only days, during any deer season for which the hunter holds a license (archery, muzzleloader, or firearm).
  • Method of take is restricted to what is legal for the specific season being hunted.
  • Available to hunters of all ages.
  • Note: A total of up to 4,000 hunters will be allowed to purchase Special Antlerless Deer Permits for WMU M; each permit includes two deer tags ($36). These permits will be available online and at NHFG Headquarters in late July on a first-come, first-served basis.

Long Island and Governor’s Island Deer Permits

Hunting Opportunities

Long Island and Governor’s Island offer unique hunting opportunities for those seeking to take deer in these locations. Each island has its own set of regulations and requirements for hunters.

Landowner Permission

  • Hunters must obtain written landowner permission to hunt on Long Island and Governor’s Island.
  • Permission forms are available at the Region 2 office in New Hampton or at Fish and Game headquarters in Concord.

Special Restrictions

  • Hunting on these islands is subject to many special restrictions, which hunters must adhere to for compliance with regulations.

All Ages Welcome

Hunters of all ages are permitted to participate in deer hunting on Long Island and Governor’s Island.

Contact Information

For further details and inquiries regarding deer hunting on these islands, please reach out to the Wildlife Division at 603-271-2461. They can provide you with essential information and answer any questions you may have about hunting opportunities in these unique locations.

Deer Hunting Regulations

Hunting Hours

  • Hunting hours for deer are from ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset.

Deer Registration

  • Deer must be registered either online or at the nearest open registration station within 24 hours of harvest.
  • A list of Deer/Turkey Registration Stations is available for reference.
  • The person who harvested the deer must accompany and register it.
  • During the first 2 days of muzzleloader season and the first 3 days of firearms season, online registration is unavailable. Deer harvested on these days must be registered at a designated registration station.
  • While deer may be quartered in the field, the head and hide must be packed out.
  • Conservation officers may request to inspect the head and hide of a harvested deer within 48 hours of the kill.

Firearms and Ammunition Restrictions

  • It is illegal to hunt deer with a rimfire firearm.
  • When hunting deer, only slugs or 00 or larger buckshot may be used, except in specific areas.
  • Exception: Buckshot is prohibited for taking deer in Auburn, Chester, Greenland, Newington, Portsmouth, and Stratham.

Multiple Deer Harvests

  • There is no requirement to register a harvested deer before taking another.

Wildlife Management Unit A (WMU A)

Seasonal Closure

In WMU A, both the archery and firearms deer seasons conclude one week earlier than the rest of the state. Hunters in this unit should be aware of this unique season closure schedule to plan their hunting activities accordingly.

Archery Season Regulations

Deer Harvest

  • During the archery season, any deer may be taken using the regular archery deer license.

Crossbow Use

  • Crossbows may be used to take deer during the regular archery season in WMU L or M, providing hunters with additional options.

Identification Requirement

  • Archers and crossbow hunters must ensure their name and address are clearly marked on their arrows or bolts.

Broadhead Specifications

  • Fixed blade broadheads used for hunting deer must have a width of not less than ⅞ inches and not more than 1½ inches.

  • Retractable blade broadheads are permitted, but they must have a width of not less than ⅞ of an inch when open.

Minimum Draw Weight

  • The minimum draw weight for bows used in deer hunting is 40 lbs.

Sidearm Carry

  • Bowhunters are allowed to carry a sidearm for personal safety, but it cannot be used to assist in taking a deer.

Crossbow Regulations

Crossbow Definition

A crossbow is defined as a device that includes:

  • A rigid stock that allows for the mounting of a single horizontally oriented bow with transverse limbs.

  • A single string that can be fully drawn, loaded with one bolt, maintained indefinitely in a firing position, and mechanically released.

Restrictions on Crossbow Design

  • Crossbows fitted with 2 or more bows, limbs, or strings, or those that permit the release of 2 or more bolts without recocking, are not permitted for hunting purposes.

Bolt Definition

  • A bolt refers to a short projectile designed for use with a crossbow, resembling an arrow.

Crossbow Specifications

  • A crossbow must have a minimum pull weight of 125 pounds to be used for hunting.

  • It must feature a working mechanical safety mechanism to ensure safe operation.

  • The total length of the crossbow should not be less than 25 inches.

  • The crossbow bolts must have the owner's name and address clearly marked on them.

Broadhead Sizes

  • The allowable sizes of broadheads for crossbows are detailed in the Archery Season section (refer to the Archery Season regulations for specific broadhead size requirements).

For additional regulations and license information related to crossbow hunting, please consult the relevant sections and guidelines provided.

Muzzleloader Season Regulations

License Requirements

  • To participate in deer hunting during the muzzleloader season, hunters must possess both a Regular N.H. Hunting License and a Muzzleloader License.

Muzzleloader Definition

  • A muzzleloader is described as a single-barrel, single-shot firearm with a caliber of 40 or greater. It necessitates loading the projectile from the muzzle.

Deer Harvest Limit

  • During the muzzleloader season, only one deer may be harvested using a muzzleloader, crossbow, or bow and arrow with the firearm tag. No separate muzzleloader tag is issued.

Possession Restrictions

  • In New Hampshire, a muzzleloader is legally considered a firearm. Consequently, individuals with felony convictions are prohibited from possessing a muzzleloader.

Deer Baiting Season

For regulations regarding deer baiting, please refer to the General Hunting Regulations. Additionally, the specific season for deer baiting can be found in the Deer Hunting Seasons section. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the regulations and season details to ensure compliance and responsible hunting practices during the deer baiting season.

Antlered/Any Deer Definitions

  • Antlered Deer: Refers to deer that have at least one antler measuring three (3) or more inches in length.

  • Any Deer: Encompasses all deer, regardless of their sex or age, and includes both antlered and antlerless deer.

Bear Brook Refuge Hunting Regulations

In the Bear Brook Refuge, deer hunting is permitted exclusively with bow and arrow. Only individuals holding a valid Archery License are authorized to engage in deer hunting within this area. Please adhere to these regulations to ensure responsible and lawful hunting practices in the Bear Brook Refuge.

Deer Hunting at Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge

Deer hunting is permitted at the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge. However, hunters must follow specific regulations:

  • Hunters are required to obtain a special permit through the US Fish and Wildlife Service to participate in deer hunting at the refuge.
  • Additionally, hunters must possess any appropriate New Hampshire hunting licenses and tags.

For further details and to acquire the necessary permit, please visit the official Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge website at fws.gov/refuge/great-bay/visit-us/activities/hunting. Alternatively, you can contact the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge at the following address:

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge 6 Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport, MA 01950

You may also reach out by phone at (978) 465-5753 for additional information regarding deer hunting opportunities at the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Prohibited Activities in Deer Hunting

During deer hunting, the following activities are strictly prohibited:

  1. Firearm Type: Hunting deer with a .22 or smaller rimfire firearm, or with shot loads smaller than 00 buckshot is unlawful.

  2. Antlered Size: Killing any deer with antlers measuring less than 3 inches during the Antlered Only deer season is not allowed.

  3. Baiting with 100% Salt Products: Using 100% salt products as bait for deer hunting is prohibited.

  4. Joint Drives: Having more than 6 people participate in a joint drive for deer is against the law.

  5. Water Hunting: Hunting deer in the waters of any lake or pond is not permitted.

  6. Long Island and Governor's Island: Hunting deer on Long Island in Moultonborough or Governor's Island in Gilford is only allowed with the appropriate special permits (see page 20).

  7. Notification of Deer Location: Leaving a deer in the woods without notifying a Conservation Officer within 12 hours regarding its location and the reason for not removing it is unlawful.

  8. Deer Sales: Buying, selling, or offering for sale a deer or any part thereof, other than the head, hide, or feet, is prohibited.

  9. Tagging Requirements: Possessing a deer that hasn't been properly tagged is not allowed. Upon killing a deer, the tag must be immediately detached, filled out, and attached to the deer.

  10. Multiple Deer: Assisting another in taking a deer after you have taken one is prohibited unless you possess a valid unused tag or are accompanying a youth under 16 years of age or someone with an apprentice license.

  11. Air Rifles: Hunting deer with an air rifle is unlawful.

Important Reminder

Please be aware that it is unlawful to pick up any wildlife killed by a motor vehicle without authorization from local or state police or the New Hampshire Fish and Game department. This regulation is in place to ensure proper handling and reporting of wildlife incidents and to comply with state wildlife conservation laws. Always seek appropriate authorization when encountering wildlife casualties resulting from vehicle accidents.

Additional Restrictions in Bow

In the town of Bow, there are specific restrictions on hunting. These restrictions pertain to the use of firearms in certain areas. Here are the details of the additional restrictions in Bow:

  • Restricted Area: All hunting in the specified area is prohibited with any firearm other than a shotgun, muzzleloading rifle, or bow and arrow or crossbow.

  • Area Description: The restricted area is defined as follows: 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.

New Hampshire Deer Hunting Laws and Regulations

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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.