How to Get a Hunting License

November 04, 2021 4 min read

hunter behind camouflaged blind

A hunting license is a certificate or card that legally authorizes you to kill and harvest game for subsistence or sport. The license is usually limited to one or more classes or species of animal and a certain time of year, and it may also be for a specific type of weapon or region. Each state has a wildlife agency, such as a Department of Fish and Game, that issues hunting licenses to applicants.

Do You Need a Hunting License?

In most cases, to hunt legally, you need a hunting license issued by your state’s wildlife agency. However, there are some exceptions, depending on the state. For example, in Alabama,residents aged 65 years or older and younger than 16 are exempt. This may also apply to disabled veterans and landowners and their immediate family when hunting on their own land.

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How to Apply for a Hunting License

Before you can purchase a hunting license, you need to complete a hunter safety course approved by the state in which you live. As part of the online course, you’lllearn the hunting rules and regulations for your state, which vary from one location to another. You can usually take these courses online, printing the certificate at home upon completion. Some states also require that hunters take in-person classes or attend an instructor-led field day.Check your state’s rules for in-person and virtual learning requirements. 

Once you have completed your hunter’s education course and successfully passed the exam, your confidential information will be uploaded to a secure server on your state’s Game and Fishing system. When you apply for a hunting license, either online or from an authorized store selling fishing and hunting gear, they use this information as proof that you completed the course, and they provide you with a license. 

To validate your license, you need to sign and date it. You can do this in the store where you purchased the license or electronically via your state’s hunting license system. When you’ve validated your hunting license, it acts as proof that you have completed a hunter safety education course. It also allows you to purchase hunting tags and enter draws. 

What do you want to hunt?

During the application process, you’ll need to decide which species of animal you want to hunt. For example, elk and moose are typically considered big game and are categorized differently from white-tail deer. If you want to fish or hunt migratory waterfowl, these activities also require separate licenses. For the hunter and angler interested in taking full advantage of the diverse range of game animals in their state, consider applying for a sportsman’s or combination license. These allow you to hunt everything your state has to offer, usually for a discounted price. 

Resident or non-resident?

You’ll have to choose whether you’re a resident or a non-resident of the state where you’re applying for a license. If you live in the state, usually for more than six months at a time, you’re considered a resident. This also applies if you have a state-issued ID card or driver’s license issued by that state. Non-resident hunting licenses are typically more expensive than resident hunting licenses. There may also be variations in the season start date, bag and tag limits and species bans for non-residents. 

pair hunters inside blind

Restrictions on Equipment

As part of your preparations, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with your state’s restrictions on weapons, ammunition, camouflage and hunting blinds. These can vary significantly, and the penalties for violating these regulations can be severe, including steep fines, the temporary or permanent loss of your hunting license and even imprisonment.

Weapon restrictions

Some states restrict the caliber of weapons or prohibit specific types of firearms. For example,in Oregon, the minimum centerfire caliber for hunting deer, pronghorn sheep, black bear and cougar is .22. Others don’t allow the use of certain types of broadhead hunting arrows when using a compound or recurve bow and require a minimum draw weight (e.g., 40 lb.). 

You should also find out whether your state imposes a magazine-capacity restriction on hunting firearms. In Oregon, you may not hunt upland or migratory birds with a shotgun that can hold more than three shells at a time.

Camouflage and blaze orange requirements

While you’ll need to wear camouflage, wearing an orange article of clothing is recommended to allow other hunters to easily identify you from a distance. You may need to wear more orange when the ground is littered with dead leaves during the autumn months. In some states,wearing orange is strongly encouraged but not required. In others, it’s legally mandatory.

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Hunting blind regulations

Many hunters prefer to hunt from blinds because they offer better concealment and comfort while out in the field. However, there are restrictions on when and where you can place the blind in some states and what type of blind you can use. Sinkbox aquatic blinds are prohibited across the U.S. for use when hunting migratory waterfowl.Elevated hunting blinds and ground blinds are permitted in most areas; however, permanent blinds are not allowed to be affixed to trees or other natural structures in most state and national forests.

In some cases, often during rifle/shotgun season, you may need to attach a section of orange blaze fabric to your blind to make it more visible to hunters. If you have a well-designed ground blind, such as aMarksman 6x8 Octagon, which features a 360° vantage point, narrow firearm apertures and realistic camo pattern, then the orange blaze is unlikely to spook your prey. 

Find the Best Hunting Blinds and Accessories for Your Hunt

At Shadow Hunter Blinds, we manufacture a variety of hunting tools and accessories, from elevated hunting blinds and ghost blinds for the ultimate field camouflage to Tail Mate seats for your comfort. Check out our range of products to find the best option for your next hunting trip.