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New Hampshire General Hunting Laws and Regulations

Baiting Regulations in New Hampshire

Baiting Permit Requirements

  • Baiting Permit: A baiting permit is mandatory for any bait site. You can obtain current baiting permit applications (no fee) at any Fish and Game office or online at huntnh.com/licensing/forms.html.
  • Landowner Approval: Applications for permits to bait wildlife on private property must be signed by the landowner.
  • Submission: No bait shall be placed until two copies of the bait permit and a topographic map have been submitted to the Wildlife Division at Fish and Game headquarters in Concord.
  • Seasonal Restrictions: Bait may not be placed from April 15 through August 31 (dates inclusive).
  • Species-Specific Baiting: Bait may not be placed at any site until the baiting season for that species is open.
  • Outdated Permits: Outdated versions of baiting permits will not be accepted.

Limits on Bait Sites

  • Individual Limits: No person, except a licensed N.H. Hunting Guide, can have more than 2 active bait sites statewide.
  • Licensed Guides: A licensed N.H. Hunting Guide may have up to 8 active bait sites, with 6 for commercial use and up to 2 for personal use.
  • Clarification: Licensed N.H. Hunting Guides must indicate on the bait permit if the site is for commercial or personal use.

Bear Baiting Regulations

  • Tagging Requirements: Any bear taken off a commercial site must be tagged with a bear guide tag.
  • Guide Tags: A licensed guide can only use their guide tags on bears taken off commercial bait sites registered under their name.
  • Personal Sites: No bear taken off a personal site can be tagged with a bear guide tag.

Permit Application Deadlines

  • Bear Baiting: Applications for baiting permits on private land must be received by the Department or postmarked by the first Monday in August for bear.
  • Other Species: For all other species (except coyote), applications must be received by the Department or postmarked by the first Monday in October. Coyote baiting applications may start in December for the following year.

Additional Requirements

  • Topographic Map: Each baiting permit must include a detailed topographic map describing the location of the bait site.
  • Permit Holder: Only the person to whom the permit is issued is allowed to place bait at the site.
  • Signage: The permittee must post a durable sign at the site with their name and address, as well as those of up to 2 subpermittees. Only these individuals are allowed to hunt over the permitted bait site. The sign must be visible and not higher than 6 feet off the ground. Once posted, the sign cannot be altered or removed by anyone other than the permittee.
  • Distance from Dwellings: Bait may not be placed less than 300 feet from a dwelling, public roadway, pathway, or trail.
  • Coyote Baiting: From the close of the bear baiting season through December 15, baiting for coyote is restricted to the use of meat, animal parts, carrion, or fish.
  • Water Restrictions: It is illegal to place bait in public waters or on ice-covered public waters.
  • Prohibited Species: Baiting for turkey, moose, or migratory waterfowl is not allowed.
  • Permit Expiration: Permits expire at the end of the calendar year unless an earlier date is specified on the permit form or the season has ended for the species identified on the baiting permit.
  • CO Accompaniment: When requested by a Conservation Officer (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

General Requirements

  • Baiting Permit: A baiting permit is mandatory for any bait site on State-owned and State-managed lands, including the White Mountain National Forest.
  • Application Period: Permit applications for State-owned and State-managed lands must be received by the Department or postmarked between the first Monday in June and the first Monday in August for deer and bear. For baiting coyote for the following year, applicants may apply starting on December 1. Applications for all other species are accepted at any time.
  • Application Details: Applications must be completed in full, including a topographic map and directions to the bait site, to be considered.
  • Issuance Basis: Baiting permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis, except for permits for the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Forest, which are issued through a lottery system (visit wildnh.com/hunting/baiting-wildlife.html for more information).
  • Submission: One copy of the bait permit application shall be submitted to the Law Enforcement Division at Fish and Game headquarters in Concord.
  • Trapping Units: No person, including a licensed N.H. Hunting Guide, is allowed to have more than 1 active bait site within an individual trapping unit. Visit huntnh.com for details regarding trapping units.
  • Bait Material: Non-edible or non-digestible materials are prohibited as bait.
  • Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Forest: A total of 40 bait sites are allowed for baiting bear, and 20 bait sites for other species on the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Forest property in Pittsburg, NH. These are issued by lottery (see above).
  • Tree Stands/Blinds: Additional regulations regarding tree stands/blinds may apply.

Baiting Rules for Bear

  • Limitations: No person, except a licensed N.H. Hunting Guide, may place bait for attracting and taking bear at more than 2 bait sites statewide.
  • Chocolate Prohibition: Bait containing chocolate or any cocoa derivative is not allowed. White chocolate may be used as bait.

Baiting Rules for Deer

  • Limitations: No person, except a licensed N.H. Hunting Guide, may place bait for attracting and taking deer at more than 2 bait sites statewide.
  • Seasonal Restriction: Baiting for the purpose of attracting and taking deer is prohibited before the opening of the deer baiting season.
  • Special Permits: Persons holding a Disabled Veteran License or Paraplegic License may bait deer from September 15 through December 15, statewide.

Dead Animals Found

Important Guidelines

If you come across a deceased deer, bear, moose, or turkey that you did not personally hunt and harvest, please adhere to the following important guidelines:

  • Do Not Tag or Move: It is crucial that you refrain from tagging or relocating the dead animal.
  • Motor-Vehicle Kill: If the animal appears to have been killed by a motor vehicle, it cannot be taken without proper authorization from a law enforcement officer.
  • Contact Law Enforcement: In such cases, please promptly contact Law Enforcement Dispatch at (603) 271-3361.

Your cooperation in following these guidelines is essential to ensure proper handling and compliance with wildlife regulations.

Discharge Restrictions and Compact Areas

RSA 207: 3-a & 644:13

The following regulations pertain to the discharge of firearms, bow and arrow, crossbows, and air rifles in specific areas:

Discharge Near Occupied Dwellings

  • Prohibition: It is illegal to discharge a firearm, bow and arrow, crossbow, or .22 caliber or larger air rifle for hunting within 300 feet of a permanently occupied dwelling without the owner or occupant's permission, or without permission from the landowner if you are on their property.
  • Commercial, Educational, or Medical Buildings: Firearms may not be discharged within 300 feet of any commercial, educational, or medical building, or outdoor public gathering place.

Discharge Within Compact Areas

  • Compact Area Definition: Firearms may not be discharged within the compact area of any town or city. A compact area is defined as a contiguous area containing six or more buildings used as part-time or permanent dwellings, where each building is within 300 feet of one of the other buildings, and it also includes a 300-foot-wide perimeter around all of the buildings.

Discharge Near Highways

  • Prohibition: It is unlawful to discharge a firearm, air rifle, bow and arrow, or crossbow and bolt within 15 feet of the traveled portion of, or across any class I through V highway. The following public highways (including the rights of way) have additional restrictions:
    • 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 the Massachusetts line to Rte. 101 in Bedford)
    • Rte. 101 (from the Bedford town line to Rte. 1 in Hampton)

Game Cameras

Effective January 1, 2024 - Hunters will be required to have written or verbal landowner permission to place game cameras on their property. State and municipal lands are exempt. Permissions granted expire on December 31 of each year unless extended or revoked by the landowner.

  • Property owners may permit the placement of game cameras by posting signs of durable material with verbiage describing the activity permitted, such as “Game Cameras Allowed.” Signs must include 2-inch or greater block letters and the name and contact information of the property owner. Signs should be posted at gates, bars ways, and commonly used entrances.
  • All cameras must be labeled with the name and contact information of the camera owner in a manner that is visible while mounted.
  • The law has not changed regarding the taking of wildlife and cell phone cameras: no person shall take, or attempt to take, a game animal or fur-bearing animal within the same calendar day of remotely viewing any image or video of that animal from a game camera in that area.

Regulations for Licensed Hunting Guides

Licensed New Hampshire Hunting Guides are subject to additional regulations beyond the general hunting rules. If you are a licensed guide, it is important to be aware of these regulations. For specific details and inquiries related to these regulations, please contact the Law Enforcement Division at (603) 271-3127. It is essential for hunting guides to comply with these regulations while conducting their hunting activities.

Lacey Act: Federal Consequences for Violations

Transporting wildlife across state lines in violation of state laws can lead to serious federal consequences under the Lacey Act. Federal penalties for such violations can include:

  • Penalty: Up to $250,000
  • Imprisonment: Up to 5 years in prison

It is crucial to be aware of and adhere to both state and federal wildlife laws and regulations to avoid these severe penalties. Complying with wildlife conservation laws is essential to protect the environment and avoid legal trouble.

Leashed Dog Trackers: A Valuable Resource

Licensed volunteer leashed dog trackers are available to assist in tracking and recovering wounded deer, moose, and bear. These dedicated individuals are licensed by the N.H. Fish and Game Department for this important task, which may involve tracking at night.

If you require assistance in finding wounded game animals, don't hesitate to reach out to these licensed leashed dog trackers. They have the expertise and resources to help locate and recover injured wildlife.

For a list of licensed leashed dog trackers, you can visit huntnh.com. These volunteers play a vital role in wildlife conservation and ensuring that wounded animals receive the necessary care and attention.

OHRV Use: Know the Regulations

The use of Off-Highway Recreational Vehicles (OHRVs), including ATVs, trail bikes, and UTVs, is subject to specific regulations to ensure responsible and legal operation. Here are some important guidelines:

  1. Written Landowner Permission: It is mandatory to obtain written landowner permission before operating an OHRV on private property. This permission ensures that you have the landowner's consent to use your OHRV on their land.

  2. Sanctioned ATV Trails: OHRVs may be used on sanctioned ATV trails without requiring additional landowner permission. These designated trails are established for recreational use.

  3. Registration: OHRVs must be registered when operating off your own property. Proper registration helps in identifying and regulating OHRV use.

Tree Stands and Blinds Regulations

Tree stands, ladders, and observation blinds are essential tools for hunting, but there are important regulations to ensure their responsible use:

  1. Written Landowner Permission: It is mandatory to obtain written landowner permission if your tree stand, ladder, or observation blind damages or destroys a tree by inserting any metallic, ceramic, or other object into the tree. This permission is also required if a tree is cut in conjunction with the use of these structures, for constructing a pit blind, or for any permanent stands or blinds. This permission document should be carried with you while hunting.

  2. Permanent Stands on State-Owned Lands: On State-owned and State-managed lands, permanent stands are illegal. This means that only portable or temporary stands and blinds are allowed.

  3. Placement and Removal Dates: Effective January 1, 2024, portable or temporary tree stands or observation blinds may be placed on another person's land during specific periods: from April 25 to June 1 and from August 1 to December 31. It's crucial to remove these structures from the property by June 1 unless you have explicit permission from the property owner or their designee.

  4. Owner Identification: As of January 1, 2024, all tree stands or observation blinds must be labeled with the name and contact information of the owner. This information should be clearly visible on the structure.

  5. Expiration of Permissions: All landowner permissions for tree stands and blinds expire on December 31 unless revoked by the landowner before that date.

Prohibited Actions While Hunting

When engaging in hunting activities, it is essential to adhere to the following regulations to ensure safety, ethical hunting practices, and compliance with the law:

1. Negligent Harm to Humans

  • It is unlawful to negligently shoot, wound, or kill a human being while hunting or abandon a wounded or killed human being.

2. Negligent Discharge and Property Damage

  • Negligently discharging a firearm or causing death, injury, or damage to domestic animals or property while hunting is prohibited.

3. Treed or Cornered Wildlife

  • Shooting any wildlife that has been treed or cornered by a dog is prohibited unless the owner of the dog or a member of the hunting party is present.

4. Domestic Dogs

  • Shooting a domestic dog in pursuit of wildlife is not allowed.

5. Night Hunting Restrictions

  • Possessing a firearm with ammunition, bow and arrow, or crossbow and bolt while attempting to locate or illuminate wild animals at night is generally prohibited, except for specific hunting activities such as coyote night hunting from January 1–March 31 or raccoon hunting. Additionally, checking traps at night is permitted.

6. Wildlife Illumination

  • Illuminating wild animals is prohibited from September 1 through December 31, with the exception of moose, which may be illuminated between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. in Coos County on specified road types.

7. Spring Guns and Set Guns

  • The use of spring guns or set guns to take wildlife is unlawful.

8. Use of Drones

  • The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to locate, surveil, or assist in the taking of wildlife is prohibited.

9. "Smart Rifles"

  • Hunting with "smart rifles" that have electronic assistance or computer-linked triggers to aid in tracking or shot placement is not allowed.

10. Live-Action Game Cameras

  • Using live-action game cameras to locate, surveil, or assist in taking game animals or furbearing animals on the same calendar day while the season is open is prohibited.

11. Bait Containing Chocolate

  • Hunting bears over bait containing chocolate or any cocoa derivative is not permitted.

12. Hunting from Motorized Vehicles

  • Hunting from inside or upon any type of motorized vehicle, including aircraft, motor vehicles, snowmobiles, or OHRVs, is unlawful.

13. Hunting from Moving Boats

  • Hunting from a boat or canoe before all movement from mechanical power has stopped is prohibited.

14. Carrying Cocked Crossbows

  • Carrying a cocked crossbow in or on a motor vehicle, OHRV, snowmobile, or aircraft when in motion or in/on a boat or other craft while being propelled by mechanical power is not allowed. Some exceptions apply.

15. Carrying Loaded Firearms

  • Carrying a loaded rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader, or air rifle in or on a motor vehicle, OHRV, snowmobile, or aircraft when in motion or in/on a boat or other craft being towed by a mechanically powered craft is generally prohibited. Exceptions exist for loaded pistols or revolvers and for individuals protecting their livestock or crops.

16. Unauthorized Entry

  • Entering posted land without the permission of the owner or failing to leave when requested is unlawful.

17. Damaging Property

  • Willfully tearing down, obstructing, or leaving open any fence, gate, or bar belonging to or enclosing another person's land, or removing or defacing posted signs or property, is prohibited.

18. Firearm Restrictions

  • Using full-jacketed metal case bullets and hunting with fully automatic firearms or semi-automatic rifles loaded with more than six cartridges (except rimfire rifles and pistols) is not allowed.

19. Sale of Game

  • Buying, selling, or offering for sale deer, bear, moose, or any part thereof (excluding head, hide, or feet) is unlawful.

20. Tagging and Possession

  • Possessing a deer, bear, moose, or turkey that hasn't been properly tagged is prohibited. Upon killing one of these animals, the tag must be immediately filled out and attached.

21. Assisting After Taking

  • Assisting another person in taking a deer or bear after you have taken one yourself is only allowed if you possess a valid unused tag or are accompanying a minor.

22. Dispatching Wounded Game

  • Dispatching a wounded deer, bear, moose, turkey, or other game animal that is not permitted to be taken at night with a firearm is only allowed if you are a licensed dog tracker.
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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.