How to Get Hunting Licenses

By Kristen May , last updated January 4, 2012

Getting a hunting license is a prerequisite for hunting in most areas of the country, with exceptions only occasionally granted for hunting on your own land or for Native Americans who hunt on their tribal lands. Unless your state grants exceptions for your circumstance, you must get a license before you hunt, and you can be severely fined if you are found hunting without a license. Because hunting is regulated by individual states, the procedure for getting a hunting license varies depending on where you live. Follow some basic steps to learn more about hunting licenses in your state and get the license you need to go out and hunt.

Locate the Appropriate Department

Contact your state's department of fish and game, natural resources or enviromental conservation. The name of the department that manages hunting licenses varies from one state to another, but you should be able to easily find it by going to your state's official website and following links to the relevant part of the site. Alternately, go to a local hunting supply store to ask how to get in contact with the department that issues hunting licenses.

Take Any Required Safety Courses

Take any required gun safety or hunting education courses that your state requires you to have before getting a license. In some cases, if you have ever held a hunting license before in this or another state, you will not need to complete the courses before being licensed. Other states require everyone to take the course in the state before getting licensed. Once you take the course, keep your certificate of completion in a safe place and make a copy right away. You will need the original certificate to get your hunting license.

Fill out Applications and Pay Fees

Fill out your state's hunting license application and pay any required fees. Show all documentation that the state's department of fish and game requires. This might include proof of residency and any previous hunting licenses you have held. States often have different licenses for people coming in from out-of-state to hunt, so find out the rules in the state you are going to if you will be traveling for your hunting trip. If your state offers a lifetime hunting license, you can consider whether you want to purchase this instead of getting a seasonal license. The lifetime license can be less expensive in the long run, provided you stay in the state long enough for the cost of the annual licenses for that many years to exceed the cost of the lifetime license.

Tips for Once You Have Your License

Carry your hunting license with you at all times when you are on a hunting trip. You should also make a copy of your license to keep at home and have as a back-up if your original license gets lost. Also, purchase tags for big game if your state regulates the number of animals that each hunter can take. In some cases, you must enter your state's lottery system to get the tags because the number of animals is less than the number of hunters who want them. You must have a tag for each animal you hunt if your state requires it.

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