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NH Hunting Report - October 16, 2020

New Hampshire's fall hunting seasons are underway throughout the state. Black bear, gray squirrel, and resident Canada geese seasons kicked off on September 1, leading the way into upland bird, turkey, and deer seasons. Visit the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s website at for hunting season forecasts by New Hampshire biologists, Wildlife Management Area maps, season dates, bag limits, and more.


At-a-glance overview of ongoing season dates in New Hampshire, including Youth Deer Weekend:

    • Archery: September 15-December 15 (ends December 8 in WMU A)
    • Youth Weekend: October 24-25
    • Muzzleloader: October 31-November 10
    • Firearms: November 11-December 6 (ends November 29 in WMU A)
  • BLACK BEAR: Starts September 1 (end dates vary by WMU)
  • GRAY SQUIRREL: September 1, 2020-January 31, 2021
  • SNOWSHOE HARE: October 1, 2020-March 31, 2021 (bag limit varies by WMU)
  • RUFFED GROUSE: October 1-December 31
  • MOOSE: October 17-25 (by permit only)
    • Shotgun: October 12-18 (certain WMUs)
    • Archery: September 15-December 15 (ends December 8 in WMU A)


For a detailed look at the rules and regulations that apply to each species, the NH Hunting and Trapping Digest is the go-to resource. Visit (includes waterfowl dates).


Bear Hunt Update:

Bear Project Leader Andrew Timmins reports that as of October 14, a total of 945 bears — 490 males and 455 females — have been taken by New Hampshire hunters. Bait hunters harvested 709 bears, still hunters/stalkers took 193 bears, and hound hunters registered 43 bears. This year’s harvest to date is running 37% above both the 5-year in-season average (692 bears) and the 2019 tally (695 bears) at this point in the season.  It is very possible that a new statewide bear harvest record will be set this year as the total harvest may surpass the previous high of 1053 bears in 2018.  High harvest results in several bear management regions is needed to reduce bear populations as specified in the current Big Game Management Plan: 2016-2025.


Some additional bear harvest will occur during the remainder of the general bear season, and as a result of the overlap (in select regions) with muzzleloader and firearms deer season (see the 2019-2020 New Hampshire Hunting Digest for specific closing dates by Wildlife Management Unit). Bear seasons have been intentionally designed to overlap with deer season in select areas to offer additional opportunity to hunters during November.


Muzzleloader season will begin on Saturday, October 31. Check the 2020 NH Hunting and Trapping Digest for muzzleloader Wildlife Management Unit-specific regulations.


Successful hunters invest significant time in scouting and pre-hunt organization, and this year it will be just as important to be prepared to register your deer by taking the following steps when planning your hunt:

  • Know the location and hours of the closest registration station before you start your hunt. Additional stations have been added since September 23. For the most up-to-date list of registration stations in the Granite State, visit
  • Understand the registration station’s procedures including its policy on wearing masks. Mask ordinances vary by town; please be prepared and respect registration station protocols.
  • Registration may take longer than in prior seasons; please be courteous and patient with registration station staff.
  • Plan to limit the number of people who enter the registration station whenever possible.
  • Before entering the check station:
    • Know what tag you have placed on the deer and have the proper hunting licenses with you.
    • Know the town/WMU the deer was harvested in.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department urges hunters not to use natural urine-based deer lures. These products can potentially spread Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a neurological disorder that is always fatal to white-tailed deer and moose. Synthetic lures are suggested. Do your part and help keep our deer herd free of CWD. Learn more at


It’s the color of the season: all outdoor enthusiasts, hunters and hikers, should incorporate hunter orange into their woodland wardrobes—its common sense in the Granite State. Visit to purchase an official New Hampshire Fish and Game Department-branded hunter orange hat and be seen in the woods.


Waterfowl Hunting: Check out our waterfowl identification resources and more at


The New Hampshire moose hunt runs from October 17 through October 25, by permit only. Over 5,800 applications were submitted for the 49 available 2020 permits. In addition to many New Hampshire residents, permit winners hailed from Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and Virginia. Good luck to those hunting!


Small Game Hunters: Please take time to help monitor small game populations and participate in our small game and ruffed grouse wing-and-tail surveys. We have been given a quality firearm to raffle off to a lucky participant in each survey. Learn more at


The NH Fish and Game Department owns 94 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) across the state, encompassing nearly 60,000 acres. The primary purpose of these lands is to protect and improve habitat for wildlife, but these properties are also open for public recreation including hunting. Explore our interactive WMA map at


Report a Poacher: If you are aware of poaching, call Operation Game Thief toll-free at 1-800-344-4262 or report wildlife crime online at


Subscribe to NH Wildlife Journal Magazine: New Hampshire Wildlife Journal magazine is your best source for hunting, fishing, wildlife, and conservation information in the state. Every issue includes outstanding wildlife photography, in-depth features, and how-to articles sure to elevate your experiences in New Hampshire’s outdoors. Visit to read sample articles and to subscribe.


Get your copy of New Hampshire’s Wild Eats, Cooking Your Catch! Celebrate your harvest success by exploring new recipes for all types of New Hampshire game. From fish to fowl, New Hampshire’s Wild Eats offers fresh, easy, and exciting ways to cook your catch with the everyday cook in mind. Visit to learn more.


Important Resources for Hunters:


WSFRFederal Aid in Wildlife Restoration: A User-Pay, User-Benefit Program
Researching and managing wildlife and teaching people to become safe, responsible hunters are activities funded by your license dollars and by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program, which is supported by an excise tax on your purchases of firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment. Learn more at