Why It Matters: New Hampshire Senate Bill 15 (NH S 15) and House Bill 221 (NH HB 221) seek to improve New Hampshire’s sporting community’s relationship with private landowners while at the same time protecting private property rights of the state’s sportsmen and women. Both bills are the culmination of years of negotiations between in-state stakeholders and would require sportsmen and women to gain landowner oral and written permission before utilizing game cameras and installing tree stands and hunting blinds on property not owned by the camera, stand, or blind owner. The bills would also protect the camera, stand, and blind owners by requiring private landowners to contact State, local law enforcement, or NH Fish and Game Law Enforcement to remove and secure such property, thereby removing the liability of property care and security from the private landowner and heading off potential conflicts between the landowner and property owner.
- On Thursday June 29, NH S 15, legislation spearheaded by a member of the New Hampshire Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus that sets reasonable parameters surrounding the use of tree stands and observation blinds on another’s property without permission, passed the Conference Committee in both House and Senate and will be delivered to Governor Chris Sununu for his signature.
- On that same day, NH HB 221, legislation that strikes a balance between the use of game cameras for hunting and honoring landowner rights, passed both chambers and will be delivered to the Governor.
- New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Colonel Kevin Jordan’s testimony was helpful for Committee members in understanding this nuanced issue and provided insight into why both bills are improvements for New Hampshire’s sportsmen/landowner relations.
- The Granite State is one of a few that celebrates a long-standing open access tradition to private land where not posted.
On Thursday, June 29, NH S 15 and NH HB 221 – two bills that would strike a balance between landowner rights and the use of game cameras, tree stands, and hunting blinds on property not owned by the camera, stand, or blind owner – cleared their respective chambers and will be delivered to Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Governor Chris Sununu for his consideration. New Hampshire’s sportsmen and women enjoy an open access tradition to private land where not posted, which has allowed for significant opportunities for the sporting community. With 73% of the state’s land being privately held, open access to huntable property, especially in the south central and eastern regions of the state, is vital for the practicing of our sporting heritage.
NH S 15 requires that “No person shall construct a permanent tree stand or observation blind without permission from the property owner or designee” while also limiting the dates that portable tree stands and blinds may be kept on another’s property without permission from the landowner. NH HB 221 requires landowner permission to use a game camera on another’s property and states that “any person taking or attempting to take a game animal or fur-bearing animal may use a game camera to locate, surveil, aid or assist in any attempt to locate or surveil any game animal or fur-bearing animal” provided that it is not on the same calendar day as remotely viewing any image/video of that animal from a game camera. After several years of hard negotiations between those within the sporting community who are both for and against these bills, what was once tradition and common practice in knowing the owner of the land and establishing a rapport, may now be laid into law with the potential passage of these bills. Both policies also protect landowners by requiring property owners to contact a local or state law enforcement officer or conservation officer to remove and seize property that was placed in violation of the rules.
While these rules won’t affect the non-equipment using sportsman or woman, it will allow the greater population to reengage in our time honored traditions and improve sportsmen/ landowner relations for years to come.