Where Can I Hunt In New Hampshire?
Based on long-standing tradition, nearly all lands in the state of New Hampshire are open to hunting. The "rule of thumb" in New Hampshire is: all state, federal, municipal, county and private land is open to hunting unless it is posted against hunting. However, hunting is a privilege granted by the landowner -- not a right granted to the hunter. There are four general categories of land ownership in the state, all of which allow hunting with a few exceptions.
1. Federal lands: The largest single landholding is the White Mountain National Forest. comprising over 751,000 acres -- nearly 10 percent of the land area in the state. Most of this land is open to hunting, except for the tourist spots and campgrounds. The National Forest's land is shown in Delorme's New Hampshire Atlas and Gazetteer in a shade of darker green.
2. State lands and state-managed lands: The majority of these lands are open to hunting including:
- 117 state forests
- 41 state parks
- 63 other tracts
- 100 Wildlife Management Areas
The Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED) owns a total of 201,513 acres, most of which is open to hunting. It also manages three flood control areas totaling 13,446 acres and conservation easements on thousands of additional acres.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department owns or has hunting rights to nearly 30,000 acres distributed over nearly 100 tracts, most of which are called Wildlife Management Areas.
3. Private land owned by paper or timber companies: Several major paper and timber companies in the state have kept their lands open to hunting by the public for over half a century. They have maintained a very close working relationship with the Fish and Game Department to try to provide access to some of the largest private tracts of land across northern New Hampshire.
Most of these lands remain open because of the respect hunters have shown over the last several decades. Please continue this respect by staying off wet or soft roads and giving the right-of-way to logging trucks and equipment. Do not park or block any road or barway. Respect gated or closed roads. Some ATV use is allowed in designated areas but it is prohibited by some companies. Make local contacts for specific information. These tracts are not listed in the N.H. Atlas and Gazeteer.
4. Private, County and Municipal lands: 80% of New Hampshire's forestland is privately owned. Generally speaking, most private lands -- especially larger tracts -- remain open to hunters across New Hampshire, unless otherwise posted against hunting. New Hampshire Fish and Game highly recommends that each hunter personally contact landowners whenever possible and seek permission to hunt. Frequently, even land posted to hunting can be accessed by contacting the owner prior to hunting. Please respect all landowners wishing to keep their lands posted. Many landowners have sought reduced tax burdens by placing their land under current land use tax assessment. One category of current use tax reduction requires the landowner to keep his land open to public use, including hunting, in order to get an additional 20% tax reduction. This is a real incentive to keep private land open to hunting. Check with town officials for Current Use tax land.
A considerable amount of privately-held acreage is kept open to hunting. In the early 1990s, the state invested nearly $46.4 million under the Land Conservation Investment Program to protect land throughout the state from development by buying conservation easements on the lands. The conservation easements require the land be kept open to the public in perpetuity, including hunting. More than 100,000 acres were protected with the conservation easements. These lands are also depicted in the light green shade in the N.H. Atlas and Gazeteer. Additionally, many county and municipal lands, such as watershed protection areas, are open to hunting. You must check locally for rules regarding hunting in these sites.
If you are planning to hunt in New Hampshire this fall,
you can expect plenty of opportunities to find great areas to hunt. The
woods are waiting for your footsteps but be sure that the only thing you
leave in the woods is your tracks.