Deer Hunting Regulations

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Deer Hunting Licensing Requirements

All hunters, with the exception of those eligible to use the special deer tag Special Deer Tag, 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 and Licenses & Fees):

Archery License: allows the taking of one deer of either sex during the archery deer season. A crossbow may also be used 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 restrictions apply).

Muzzleloader License: allows 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, 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.

Special Archery Deer Permit: allows the taking of an additional antlered deer using bow and arrow during the archery season. A crossbow may also be used in WMU L or M. 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 3,000 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 with an application period opening in the beginning of July. Permits were available for purchase starting August 3 for all lottery winners and must be purchased by August 31, 2023.

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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 near the end of July 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, in Lake Winnipesaukee, 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 online or at the closest open registration station within 24 hours. See Deer/Turkey Registration Stations for a listing of stations. Deer must be accompanied and registered by the person who took the deer. Online registration will be unavailable during the first 2 days of muzzleloader season and first 3 days of firearms season and deer must be registered at a registration station on these days. Deer may be quartered in the field but the head and hide must be packed out. A conservation officer may request to see the head and hide of any harvested deer 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. It is not required to register a harvested deer before taking another.

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WMU A

Both the archery and firearms deer seasons close one week earlier than the rest of the state.

Archery Season

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 L or M.

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.

Crossbows

A crossbow means a device consisting of a rigid stock that permits only a single horizontally mounted bow with transverse limbs, a single string to be fully drawn, loaded with one bolt, maintained indefinitely in a firing position, and mechanically released. No crossbow fitted with 2 or more bows, limbs, or strings, or which permit 2 or more bolts to be released without recocking shall be permitted for the purpose of a take. 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 total length no less than 25 inches. Name and address must be plainly marked on crossbow bolts. Allowable sizes of broadheads are outlined in the Archery Season section above. (See License Information for regulations)

Muzzleloader Season

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 requires that the projectile be loaded from the muzzle. Only one deer may be taken using a muzzleloader, crossbow, or bow and arrow with the firearm tag during the muzzleloader season. No separate muzzleloader tag is issued. In NH a muzzleloader is defined as a firearm—therefore a felon may not possess a muzzleloader.

See also 

Deer Baiting Season

See General Hunting Regulations for regulations, see Deer Hunting Seasons for the season.

Antlered/Any Deer—Definitions

  • 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 fws.gov/refuge/great-bay/visit-us/activities/hunting 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 in the waters of any lake or pond
  • Hunt deer on Long Island in Moultonborough or Governor’s Island in Gilford, except with the appropriate special permits (see p. 20).
  • 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, or someone with an apprentice license.
  • Hunt deer with an air rifle.
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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>