Understanding Hunting Laws for Beginners

By Sam Feeder , last updated December 31, 2011
A basic understanding of hunting laws for beginners is a necessary part of learning how to hunt. Specific rules have been put in place to keep people from hunting at times when they are not supposed to, hunting animals they are not supposed to, and killing too many animals when they go hunting. What a first-time hunter must come to understand is that hunting laws are meant to regulate the amount of hunting that can be done so that hunting can continue for many years to come in the future. Otherwise, an area would be quickly overhunted, a whole group of animals would be wiped out and the natural habitat would be destroyed. Refer a beginning hunter to a few of the basic hunting laws below, so they don't inadvertently hunt in a way they shouldn't.

Permits and Licenses

Hunters must acquire either a permit or a license before they can go hunting and in some states they will need both. The specific rules on what paperwork you need to go hunting varies from state to state, unless you are hunting on land owned by the federal government, which will require a different permit. The way you obtain these licenses and permits is by going down to the state fish and game department's offices in your area and purchasing a hunting permit and license, or going to retailer that will issue you a permit or license to hunt. Some states, like Illinois, also require all hunters to have a permit to possess firearms, so that they can prove they know how to safely operate a weapon and are not a convicted felon, allowing them to stalk the woods with a loaded gun. If you are caught hunting by authorities without all the necessary paperwork, you can receive a hefty fine.

Hunting Seasons

Beginning hunters must also learn the seasons in which certain animals can be hunted. The specific dates of each hunting season will vary from animal to animal and from state to state. These seasons are set up to allow animals to breed and repopulate after they have been hunted for a number of months in a row, so that their species isn't killed off in a particular area. Sometimes the start dates of these seasons will be changed by the state fish and game departments, based on how the specific population has recovered in the down time between hunting seasons. For avid hunters, the end of one season often leads into the beginning of another season, so there will always be something to hunt. However, hunting for a particular animal out of season will also lead to fines and sometimes a revocation of the ability to hunt in a particular area.


Similar to fishing rules, hunting must have limits on the number of animals they can kill per day, week or season. This also varies on the type of animal and the state that is setting these limits. For example, a hunter can legally kill more birds in a hunting season then deer, as there are more birds in the general population then deer. These limits reduce overhunting during hunting season, so that a few skilled hunters can't wipe out an entire animal population. As with the other aforementioned laws, killing more animals than you are legally allowed to will also result in a fine and, on occasion, the revocation of a hunting license.

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