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How Can I Obtain a Hunting License?

Hunting licenses are state-specific in the U.S.
In order to legally hunt deer, hunters are required to purchase a deer tag in addition to a hunting license.
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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2014
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Obtaining a hunting license is a requirement for legal hunting by any hunter in the United States with the exception of certain property owners. The laws that regulate hunting are created and maintained primarily by each individual state’s Department of Natural Resources and Wildlife Management, though there are some federal statutes. Generally speaking, a hunting license is obtained in the hunter’s home state and is valid for one year.

Each state has varying laws and regulations regarding hunting licensing. A hunting license is obtained by paying the regulatory fee assigned to the type of license being purchased. In some states, separate licenses are needed for hunting and trapping. Combination licenses can also be purchased and fishing licenses can often be combined with hunting licenses. Certain states allow hunters to purchase a single lifetime hunting license and may offer discounts to seniors and the disabled. Hunters who hunt outside of their resident state can purchase non-resident hunting licenses in certain cases.

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The fees for a hunting license will vary as will the age requirement. Some states may require applicants to be 16 years of age and others may require applicants to be 17 or 18 years of age. A form of ID is required to obtain a hunting license regardless of location or age. Each state provides a copy of current hunting regulations each year and hunters should consult the regulations before purchasing a hunting license to ensure they are legally licensed to hunt their desired game, method, and season.

In addition to a hunting license, certain other requirements may be required. Hunting deer requires the purchase of a deer tag in addition to the license. In states where more than one deer is allowed, hunters will need a tag for each kill. Other game specific regulations may apply depending on location as well.

A hunter can obtain a hunting license from most sporting goods stores as well as their respective state’s DNR or Gaming Commission. The licensing year begins in June in most areas. In many cases, states allow licenses to be purchased online or by phone as well. For information on obtaining a non-resident hunting license in a state other than your home, hunters should speak directly to the state’s Gaming Commission.

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