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Hunting season starts this weekend

  • Crossbows, such as these available for sale at Pelletier's Sports Shop in Jaffrey, will be allowed for the taking of bear, moose and turkey this year, after new hunting regulations in the state. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Crossbows, such as these available for sale at Pelletier's Sports Shop in Jaffrey, will be allowed for the taking of bear, moose and turkey this year, after new hunting regulations in the state. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/30/2018 10:17:42 AM

Hunters this season will have more options available to them, with new rules allowing new kinds of game to be taken with crossbow and air rifle.

Crossbows have been an increasingly popular choice among hunters, steadily rising in popularity in the past 5 to 7 years, said Scott Pelletier, manager of Pelletier’s Sports Shop in Jaffrey. There are two factors contributing to that rise, Pelletier said – regulations in surrounding states allowing more types of game to be taken by crossbow and an aging hunting population.

“The average age of a hunter is getting older. Guys come in, they have shoulder or back injuries, and they say, ‘I can’t keep pulling a bow.’”

New Hampshire Fish and Game has updated its hunting regulations this year, and several types of new game are allowed to be taken with a crossbow, including bear, turkey and moose.

There is a perception surrounding the crossbow that it’s a “cheat” Pelletier said, but depending on the draw weight, arrows shot from a crossbow can have less kinetic energy than an arrow shot from a compound bow, and are more difficult to load for a second shot if needed.

A compound bow is a traditionally-drawn bow, which uses a levering system to give more power, speed and accuracy when compared to a recurve bow. 

“The real benefit and goodness of the crossbow is it can allow a hunter to continue to hunt and do what they love,” Pelletier said.

“I think it’s a good thing,” said sportsman and a chief instructor of hunter education for Fish and Game Tom Harvey of Jaffrey. “It’ll allow more hunters to hunt with different methods. There are a lot of people that can’t hunt with a compound bow. This may help maintain hunter numbers, so we’re not losing people in our archery tradition because they can’t shoot a compound bow.”

Over the weekend, Monadnock Rod and Gun Club hosted a Fish and Game hunter education and bow hunting class, a pre-requisite for acquiring a hunting license in the state. According to club President Mark Carbone, a majority of those who took the class required parental permission, which he took as a good sign of interest among young future hunters.

In his years of teaching hunter education courses, however, Harvey said adult hunters are by far usually the largest portion of the class. Many people are developing an interest in hunting later in life, as part of a more sustainable lifestyle, he said. Only about 10 percent of his classes are youths, a number that’s decreased in the last 10 years.

Crossbow hunting regulations have also been loosened for youth hunting days, Harvey said, which he hopes will attract young people to bow hunting early on, while they may not have the strenght to pull the weights required for larger game, such as deer, which requires a bow with at least a 40-pound draw weight.

“My son is 12, and he’s just getting to the point that he could draw the weight required to take an animal,” he said.

Another change in the state’s hunting regulations is that hunters are now allowed to legally take small game such as squirrel and rabbits with an air rifle. Just as it sounds, air rifles use compressed air to propel their ammunition, as with a pellet or BB gun. Until this year, New Hampshire was the only state that did not allow some form of game to be taken with air rifles.

Arguments for allowing the use of air rifles include less noise and a shorter range, while detractors argued that the weapons would make it harder to cleanly kill game and take it humanely.

What you should know if you’re a non-hunter

New Hampshire is considered an open state, meaning that the rule of thumb is that land is accessible to hunters unless it is posted otherwise – although NH Fish and Game encourages hunters to seek landowner permission for hunting on private land.

But there are restrictions homeowners should be aware of.

By law, no one can discharge a firearm or a bow within 300 feet of an occupied dwelling, unless they are given permission by the dwelling owner or the owner of the land they’re standing on.

That means, explained New Hampshire Fish and Game Lt. Heidi Murphy, that a person could legally shoot within 300 feet of a dwelling, if they were on a neighbor’s property with permission. But there are general laws against firing recklessly, for an added layer of protection.

While homeowners can post their property for no trespassing or more specifically for no hunting, there are options for limiting activities on your property without completely denying access to sportsmen. Fish and Game, through its sign posting program, can provide homeowners willing to allow a majority of their land to be used for hunting with signs, free of charge, prohibiting activity such as motorized vehicles, or signs to mark a “safety zone” around their homes or animal dwellings, or caution signs informing hunters of livestock, horses, or other recreation taking place in the area.

Hunting season for bear, gray squirrel and Canada goose begins on Sept. 1. Bow season for deer and turkey begins on Sept. 15. For more information on hunting regulations and seasons, visit the New Hampshire Fish and Game website.


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