How to Get a Hunting License: What You Need to Know

How to Get a Hunting License

If you want to go hunting, you will need to know how to get a hunting license. The requirements for getting a hunting license depends greatly on your state, but there are some shared requirements and restrictions of state-issued hunting licenses. In this article, we will explain the purpose of a hunting license and describe the 3-steps to getting a hunting license.

How to Get a Hunting License at a Glance

If you are in a hurry, here are the 3-steps to getting a hunting license:

  1. Learn your state’s hunting requirements
  2. Determine your preferred hunting style
  3. Apply for the hunting license

What is a Hunting License?

How to Get a Hunting License

A hunting license is a governmental mechanism that is used to monitor and control hunting. In the United States, you must possess a hunting license to hunt.

Most hunting licensure occurs at the state level, though some state laws are enforced by the federal government. For example, some bagging counts are determined by the federal government.

There are several purposes of a hunting license:

  • Public Safety: Hunting licenses place restrictions on who can hunt. Young children, for example, are often not allowed to hold a license since they may be a danger to themselves, bystanders, or the wildlife.
  • Wildlife Conservation: Licenses help to monitor and conserve wildlife. It does so by restricting what, when, and how much certain animals are hunted legally.
  • Revenue: Since hunting licenses cost money, they bring revenue into the state. This revenue is poured back into wildlife conservation. The United States specifically views hunting as a privilege, which allows the state to charge for the licenses.

How to Get a Hunting License

How to Get a Hunting License

Here are the 3-steps to getting a hunting license:

1. Learn your state’s hunting requirements

The first step to getting your hunting license is to check out your state’s hunting requirements. Remember to look at the regulations of the state you’ll be hunting in, which can differ from your residential state. Though the requirements are normally similar, the specifics may vary from state to state.

Here are some common regulations about hunting licenses:

  • Age Limits: Most states have a minimum age limit for those allowed to hunt. The most typical minimum age limit is 12 years old, but some states allow children aged 10+ years or no age minimum at all to hunt. Most states require parental consent for children under the age of 18.
  • Identification: When you get a hunting license, you will probably need to prove a state-issued form of identification. This can include a driver’s license or passport. You will also need your social security number as a part of the license application.
  • Hunter’s Education Course: Depending on the state you’re hunting in, you may need to take a Hunter’s Education Course. Many states allow you to choose between traditional classroom teaching, online teaching, or field-testing. Once you pass the course, you will be given a hunter safety card.

Some people may not have to take a Hunter’s Education Course. Active military, for example, may test out of required Hunter’s Education Courses depending on the state.

You can learn about your state’s requirements online.

2. Determine your preferred hunting style

After you have checked out your state’s licensure requirements, you need to determine your hunting style. You can determine your hunting style by deciding on the following:

  • Desired Animal to Hunt: You will need to determine what you will be hunting. There are two main hunting license types: big game versus non-big game. Elk and deer classify as big game while rabbits and squirrels classify as non-big game. What license you get depends on what you want to hunt.
  • Hunting Location: You will need to know the state laws of where you’re planning on hunting. More so, some states assign licenses for specific areas within the state. These areas normally serve to manage hunting within the state.
  • Hunting Weapon: You will need to know your hunting weapon. The reason for this is that some weapons are illegal in individual states. Additionally, some weapons have assigned usage seasons. So, you will only be allowed to use weapons during assigned weeks.
  • Hunting Time: Hunting time refers to when you’ll be hunting. The hunting time determines what and how you hunt. As previously stated, weapons have hunting seasons. Similarly, animals have hunting seasons.

3. Apply for the hunting license

Once you have finished steps 1 and 2, you can begin to apply for your hunting license. You can apply for a hunting license online through your state’s Fish and Game Department website or visit them at their office location.

Before applying for your license, make sure that you have the following items ready:

  • Form of identification
  • Hunter Safety Card from the education course
  • Method of payment for fees

How often you apply for a hunting license depends on the state. Some states, for instance, require you to renew your hunting license once a year. Others allow the hunting license to last a lifetime. Make sure to check out your state’s licensure length.

If you apply for a license online, many departments do not mail you a physical license card. As a result, you need to print off the receipt and keep the receipt on your body when hunting.

Once you have your license, be sure to follow the license’s rules and restrictions. These restrictions are implemented to protect you and the wildlife. If you do not follow the regulations, you can be punished with fines, removal of licensure, or even jail.

How to Get a Hunting License


You must know how to get a hunting license before going out to hunt. Hunting licenses help to protect you and your surrounding environment and monitor hunting ratings across the nation. To get a hunting license, simply check out your state’s requirements, decide your preferred hunting style, and apply for the license.