State Licensing Requirements
Each of the 50 U.S. states has its own standards and document requirements for hunting enthusiasts applying to get hunting
licenses. Some factors that affect each particular hunting license application include:
- Area you plan on hunting in
- Time period you plan on hunting in
- How you will be catching your game (i.e. archery, primitive firearm, modern firearm, etc.)
- What type of game you plan on catching (i.e. deer, waterfowl, duck, turkey, bear, etc.)
- Your state residency status
Additionally, there are certain education requirements you must meet before you apply for your hunting license.
Many states offer hunting licenses on the basis of state hunting seasons, with hunting licenses only being sold during the
hunting season period. Typically, hunting licenses are issued to a single person and cannot be transferred
or borrowed. You must keep your photo ID on you at all times, along with your hunting license when out
on hunting expeditions.
The distinction between different types of hunting licenses is most apparent when it comes to the type of animals you plan
to hunt. For example, many states have separate licenses for hunting big game versus hunting small game.
Still others get even more specific and require you to buy separate hunting licenses for each animal
such as bear hunting licenses, deer hunting licenses or even turkey hunting licenses.
Through the hunting license education programs, citizen wildlife conservation efforts and the fees collected from hunting
license purchases, state wildlife departments remain dedicated to preserving the wilderness and wildlife
throughout the country.
Hunting license fees vary based on the factors stated above, as well as your residency status. State residents normally get
a deep discount on hunting licenses when compared to non-residents. Hunters who have recently moved to
a new state can avoid non-resident hunting license fees by waiting the designated amount of time after
their move to become a state resident.
Federal Licensing Regulations
Certain federal hunting license requirements supersede the rules of your state wildlife department, depending on the type
of license you are purchasing. For example, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials state that all hunters
who plan on catching migratory ducks must first obtain a Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation
Stamp (otherwise known as a duck stamp) prior to hunting. U.S. federal law also regulated the preservation
of endangered species, providing state wildlife departments with a list of species that are prohibited
from being caught during any hunting season. To find out more about the specific federal regulations
that may affect how you hunt, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.
All states in the U.S. require some form of hunter education be taken prior to the issuance of a hunting license. Hunter
education programs are run by your state’s wildlife department and typically consist of a both
textbook-study and field experience. Most states offer hunter education courses in two formats: classroom
instruction or online instruction (there is usually a small fee for online courses). Age restrictions
differ between states, with the minimum age to be able to sign up for a hunter education course ranging
from 10 years old to 14 years old.
Topics covered in hunter education courses include:
Proper hunting techniques.
Through these education efforts, states hope to create a generation of environmentally-conscious hunters who follow the rules
of the wilderness set by the state wildlife department.
Many states also have an apprentice hunting license option, which allows children to accompany an adult licensed hunter (depending
on the state, the adult must be at least either 18 years old or 21 years old). In these situations, children
can get some real world hunting experience prior to their hunter education course.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urges hunters both young and old to follow proper hunting etiquette and techniques to
avoid any unnecessary injuries to yourself or destruction of the wilderness surrounding you. As such,
the Wildlife Service outlines a few tips that you should keep in mind when out on the hunt:
Do not hunt/eat animals that are acting abnormal to their species typical behavior.
Refrain from bringing alcoholic beverages onto public hunting grounds.
Do not harvest dead animals.
Check local weather conditions prior to your hunting trip.
Always bring protective gear for inclement weather and environment conditions, including gloves for handling uncooked meat.
Always share your hunting trip plans with somebody who will not be accompanying you, and notify them of the exact date and
time you will be returning.
Bring safety items such as water and first aid kits (check the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website for a list of recommended
Cook all meat until well done before consuming
Pack headnets and mosquito repellant if your state is a mosquito-risk area
Carry some sort of location device such as a compass or GPS monitor
With a detailed plan of action and adherence to safety rules, your hunting trip should be successful and secure. For more
information on the specifics of hunting licenses in your area, contact your state wildlife department
or visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s website.