As Hunting Season Approaches Safety is the Key

The end of summer is upon the Granite State, and soon groups of residents will be trading in their swimming trunks and bathing suits for bright orange vests and camouflage.

Hunting season officially kicks off in New Hampshire on September 1st, with the opening of the black bear and small game seasons. Archery seasons for turkey and white-tailed deer go underway beginning September 15. Waterfowl hunting begins in September, with dates varying by species and zone.

In order to take part in any hunting season, a hunter must obtain a New Hampshire hunting license. Licenses may be purchased online, by mailing in an application, or by visiting a local licensing agent (a list by town is available at A valid state-issued ID must be presented in order to obtain a hunting license.

By state law, anyone who plans to buy a hunting, archery, or trapping license must complete the respective hunter, bowhunter, or trapper education course, or show a previously issued license of the same type. For more information on how to enroll in a hunter education course, visit

Whenever firearms and archery are involved, safety measures must be taken seriously. The following are some safety tips for hunters to keep in mind:

For firearm hunters, follow these best practices: treat every firearm as if it were loaded, unload firearms when not in use, never climb a fence or tree or jump over a ditch or log with a loaded firearm, only point at what you intend to shoot, never shoot a bullet at a flat, hard surface or water, keep fingers off of the trigger until ready to shoot, clearly identify a target and what is beyond it before shooting, make certain that the gun barrel and action are clear of obstructions. Always store firearms and ammunition separately, know where your hunting partner is at all times, if you are accompanied by a hunting dog, always keep him or her under control, and perhaps most importantly for all types of hunting, avoid alcoholic beverages or other mood-altering drugs before or while on the hunt. These same guidelines can be applied to bowhunters, as well.

Planning for the weather behooves any type of hunter. Hunters can be at risk for hypothermia in cold, wet conditions, even in temperatures as high as 50 degrees. To reduce risk of hypothermia, dress in warm layers, avoiding moisture-retaining cotton and opting for a water-repelling outer layer. Before going out, be sure to check the weather report for inclement weather so as not to be caught off guard by an unexpected storm.

It is never advised to head out on a hunting trip without letting a friend, relative, or neighbor know about where you will be and when you expect to return. Should the unexpected happen, this person can alert authorities of your absence and help can be sent out to you as soon as possible.

Outdoor safety is not limited to hunters. Those who prefer to simply enjoy the beauty of the woods are advised to take their own safety precautions.

Sight-seers are urged to avoid colors and patterns that blend into the surroundings, such as white, black, brown, earth tones, animal patterns, and camouflage. Bright orange, red, or bright green clothing is best for visibility, especially for vests and hats. These bright colors will help you stand out to hunters so that they will be better able to avoid accidentally hitting you.

Making your presence known is a great way to ensure your safety. Talking loudly to a companion, whistling or singing, or even taking a portable music-playing device will help nearby hunters acknowledge your location. However, for common courtesy, noise should be reduced once safety is established so as not to scare away any potential game from the hunters.

Hikers with four-legged walking companions should not let their dogs walk off-leash in an area that allows hunting, especially in areas with game the dog may want to chase.

To avoid encountering hunters altogether, there are plenty of locations where hunting is prohibited. Most state and national parks do not allow hunting, and Sundays are often hunting-free days.

Regarding any hunting lures, the NH Fish and Game department urges hunters not to use natural urine-based deer lures as fall hunting seasons begin. These products can potentially spread Chronic Wasting Disease, a fatal neurological disorder in white-tailed deer and moose. Synthetic lures are permitted for New Hampshire hunting.

Hunting and fishing in New Hampshire can both be enjoyable activities, but they both involve rules and regulations in the interest of safety and ethics. For a complete explanation of all types of hunting, fishing and trapping and their rules and regulations in New Hampshire, as well as answers to frequently asked questions, visit

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