Hunting and fishing are traditional uses of New Hampshire's state-owned lands. Regulation of these uses on all lands in the state are the responsibility of the Fish & Game Department.
Below are some frequently asked questions regarding hunting on lands under the jurisdiction of DRED, F&G, and Water Resources.
1. Is hunting allowed on state-owned lands?
Hunting is allowed on state lands unless otherwise posted or prohibited by law. A small percentage of state lands are closed to hunting (see #3).
2. Why is hunting allowed on state lands?
State lands are managed for a wide variety of public purposes. Hunting is a traditional and popular form of public recreation in New Hampshire. Hunting is also an important means of managing some species of wildlife.
3. Are there any state-owned forest lands where hunting is not allowed?
Hunting is not allowed at the Frost Farm Historical Site in Derry, Urban Forestry Center in Portsmouth, Odiorne Point State Park in Rye (east side of Route 1A only – the west side of Route 1A is open to hunting), Shieling State Forest in Peterborough, Opeechee Bay State Forest in Laconia and Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge in Jefferson (see #6 - Why are some state properties closed to hunting?).
See also #11 "Compact Zones"; and #13 special precautions.
4. When is hunting season? What are the different seasons?
Small game season begins October 1st; archery season for deer begins mid September; firearm season for deer begins early November; there is no closed season on coyote. There are some year round seasons; for specific seasons refer to Fish and Game, tel. 603-271-3127
5. Are there any properties managed specially for hunting?
No single property is managed exclusively for hunting. State-owned forest lands under the jurisdiction of DRED, Fish & Game, and DES are managed for multiple uses.
6. Why are some state properties closed to hunting?
There must be a demonstrated need to ban hunting on a specific property. State-owned properties are considered candidates for posting "No Hunting" through an interagency review process if one or more of the following situations exist: 1) high non-hunter use and/or developed recreation, 2) urban interface, and 3) small property size in combination with 1 or 2.
7. How much state land is there? How do I get there? Where can I get a map?
DRED, Fish and Game Dept, and DES collectively manage more than 200 state forests, parks, wildlife management areas, and flood control areas totaling over 200,000 acres.
State highway maps available through DRED show the location of most major state parks and forests. Individual state park maps for many of the state parks are also available through DRED. USGS topographical maps are available at most book stores and typically show public land boundaries.
Enforcement - Complaints
8. Who enforces and/or investigates complaints and violations on the use of firearms?
Any law enforcement officer with full police power can enforce any or all state laws or can refer enforcement to appropriate local or state authority.
9. How are inquiries or complaints about hunting on state lands handled?
The procedure is described in "GUIDELINES FOR CALLER RESPONSE - About Hunting on State-owned Lands."
10. Who is responsible for enforcement of hunting laws on state lands?
The Fish and Game Dept. is responsible for regulating hunting on all lands; for information about hunting regulations; tel Fish & Game at 603-271-3127.
11. What is a compact zone and who determines if a property falls within a compact zone?
The discharge of firearms is illegal within "compact zones" defined by RSA 644:13 as any place where six or more buildings are each within 300 feet of another; includes a 300 foot perimeter around all of the buildings.
Some state lands fall within these zones. Each individual has a responsibility to know where compact zones exist to comply with the law. A law enforcement officer can make an on-site determination if there are any questions.
Hunters are advised to check with city or town officials regarding local ordinances which may govern the discharge of firearms.