Where Can I Hunt in New Hampshire?
Access to Hunting Lands in New Hampshire
In New Hampshire, hunting enthusiasts have the privilege of accessing a variety of hunting lands. It's important to recognize that this access is a privilege granted by landowners, not an inherent right. Maintaining respectful and responsible behavior towards both the land and its owners is crucial. Here's a comprehensive guide to hunting lands in New Hampshire:
Land Ownership Categories
State and Federal Lands: New Hampshire boasts several state and federal lands that offer excellent hunting opportunities. The White Mountain National Forest, spanning 751,000 acres, is the largest public land in the state and allows hunting. However, it's important to note that discharging a firearm is prohibited within 150 yards of specific areas. Other federal lands include Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge and units of the Silvio Conte National Wildlife Refuge. Most state lands are open to hunting, including state parks and forests. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department owns approximately 53,000 acres, primarily in Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). These areas are designated for wildlife resource conservation, hunting, and fishing. The state also holds conservation easements on over 19,000 acres of undeveloped land. The Fish and Game website (huntnh.com) provides maps and descriptions for the larger WMAs, which are accessible on your mobile device.
Large Private Forest Land: In New Hampshire, most large landowners have historically kept their properties open to hunting. However, it's essential to be aware of weather conditions that can result in unexpected gate closures. Timber management is the primary use of these lands, so it's crucial to yield the right of way to logging trucks and exercise respect and caution around ongoing logging operations. To ensure these lands remain open for hunting, it's important to treat them well. Avoid using wet or soft roads, give priority to logging trucks and equipment, don't park or block roads, respect gated or closed roads, and adhere to rules regarding the use of ATVs. It's advisable to establish local contacts for information and any special hunting rules on private lands.
Small Private, County, Municipal, and Conservation Easement Lands: Approximately 80% of New Hampshire's forest land is privately owned. Access to smaller parcels of private land varies across the state. It is highly recommended to personally contact landowners for permission before hunting on all private land, especially on smaller parcels. Additionally, many properties are under conservation easements held by the state, municipalities, or nonprofit organizations. Some county and municipal lands, such as watershed protection areas, are also open to hunting, but it's essential to check locally for any specific rules.
If you plan to hunt in New Hampshire, you'll find ample opportunities and diverse landscapes. However, it's your responsibility to get outdoors, conduct thorough scouting, identify suitable habitats, understand wildlife behavior and habits, and be prepared for your hunting expedition. The woods are waiting for you, so make the most of your hunting season!