What Licenses And Permits Are Required For Hunting?


Hunting is a true survival experience you can have. It is just you and the elements against you when you are out hunting. You just take your preferred weapon, some rations, and all other essential gear for hunting. But If you think that you only need a rifle or bow to hunt down animals or other migratory birds, then you are wrong! The first thing that comes while hunting is a hunting license or a hunter education card (only If you’re below 16) in America. That is the basic and most fundamental step to starting to hunt!

So what are licenses and permits required for hunting? In the USA, licenses, and permits always depend on the types of hunting and which states you are staying in. They are varied by profession and state as well. If you are living in Texas, then Texas’s hunting license will be different from other states. Although there are many federal licenses for hunting ducks and migratory birds. Today I’m going to discuss briefly what licenses and permits are required to hunt legitimately in America, state by state.

Key Takeaways

  • Carrying an appropriate license or permit is compulsory in the US.
  • Ages below 16 or above 65 are exempt from licenses and permits.
  • Hunting licenses and permits rely on hunt place and game types, Choose yours as per your state regulations.

What’s The Difference Between A License And A Permit?

What’s the difference between a license and a permit

Many beginners get confused regarding hunting licenses and permits. They stay in an ambivalent situation and ask themselves, “what’s the difference between a license and a permit”, and “Which one should I get now?”.

A hunting license is a basic certification that is required to hunt legally in the United States. Most hunting licenses are issued as wallet-sized cards that all hunters need to carry while hunting. Licenses are used for both general and specific hunting games, on a state-by-state basis. The card itself will have the expiry date, date of issue, your name, where you are from, the state that the license is for, your picture, and most importantly the animals you are allowed to hunt.

On the other hand, a permit is something needed, in addition to a license for hunting certain species like Elk, Deer, and Moose. When you want to or need to hunt some specific animal, that times you need to obtain a hunting permit by state law. Certain animals are protected and hunted in special circumstances, that is when you will need to a permit to hunt those animals specifically!

Why Do We Need Hunting Licenses And Permits?

Why do we need hunting licenses and permits

Hunting has become more recreation and sport than a survival tactic in America. But whatever it is for, you need to maintain some rules and regulations to hunt legitimately and carry licenses or permits among them. Here giving some reasons why licenses and permits are essential for hunting.

  • For Public Safety: Hunting licenses prevent dangerous individuals from easily acquiring deadly force weapons. Hunting permits can prevent hunters from getting close to public areas or doing hard to other hunters.
  • For Revenue: Another big reason for governing the hunt is the collection of tax revenue from hunters when they go for permits, licenses, and hunter education classes. This can be a major source of revenue for some big states like Texas.
  • For Conservation: What if there is no prey left where you hunting, that will be a disaster! The hunting we know and enjoy would cease to exist if hunting were completely unregulated. Overhunting can be a real threat to not only your enjoyment but the overall ecosystem balance of the wildlife! Take one animal and hunt it till there are no more in an area and you are left with catastrophic consequences! The reality is that these hunting regulations such as permits and licenses allow you to continue to enjoy hunting for decades to come while also maintaining a balance.

Rules and regulations on what animals you can hunt, and how many you can kill, all are about the conservation of natural resources and protecting the delicate ecosystem of our wilderness. Pollution, deforestation, forest fires, and population decline all are results of overhunting that aren’t carefully regulated with permits and licensing.

What is a Hunting Tags?

What is a hunting tags

A hunting tag is a piece of paper that you attach to the prey you’ve killed or is in your possession. Most tags have a date and a signature. Tags work in conjunction with your hunting license and without a license, you can’t get a tag.

Tags come in a few different options. Most tags differentiate between general tags and antlerless tags. General tags allow you to take a bull with antlers, or sometimes an animal of either sex. While antlerless tags are kind of extra tags that you can purchase for animals that are not yet antlered, which can include yearlings and females.

Different Types of hunting licenses

There are several types of hunting licenses in the USA, which vary by profession and obviously by age.

They are listed below:

  • Hunting License
  • Senior Hunting License
  • Sportsman’s License
  • Senior sportsman’s license
  • Lifetime License
  • Combo Hunting and Fishing License
  • Apprentice Combo Hunting and Fishing License
  • Disability License
  • One-Time Veterans License

What License or Permit do I need to Hunt?

As mentioned earlier that hunting licenses and permits rely on hunt type and place. Below discussion some major hunt types and what licenses and permit does it require:

What licenses and permits are required for hunting
What licenses and permits are required for hunting

For Small Game Hunting

 Small game hunting means hunting down animals that weigh less than 40 pounds. In small game hunting, people usually hunt species like rabbits, squirrels, quail, pheasants, ducks, and grouse.

Big states like California, Georgia, Alaska, Utah, and many others give permission to hunt small game animals but only with a hunting license or with a special permit. In some states like Kentucky, if your age is below 15 then you must carry a hunter education card, and only for some specific animals. Where in Utah you age below 16 and above 65 people don’t need any hunting license but only for some specific animal.

  • For non-residents: In most of the major states, non-residents are required to apply for annual. They can also get 14-day or 3-day hunting permits in some major states like California, Ohio, Texas, and many others.

For Big Game Hunting

Big game hunting means hunting down some largest wild mammals like big elk, Moose, Whitetail deer, bear, and others. In some big states, you need to purchase your license separately as they don’t give any combined licenses. In Alaska, if you want to hunt bears then you must get a bear hunting license because they will not allow you to hunt all animals at a single price.

Big mammal animal licenses are separated by categories. If you want to get only a deer license it will cost less than having an elk plus deer license. Some states like Arizona, on a certain season, allow red

  • Non-Residents: For non-residents, getting a hunting license to hunt wild beasts can be too much costlier and they need to go through several procedures. In Texas and Georgia state, a non-resident’s hunting license is three times costlier than a resident’s.  

For Waterfowl Hunting

Waterfowl hunting refers to hunting down ducks, geese, or some kind of migratory birds. Hunting down waterfowl in some major states is legal and doesn’t need a license, but there are some like Kentucky, where a hunter must possess a license to chase or kill waterfowl or other migratory birds.

  • Non-Residents: To chase or kill waterfowl or migratory birds a non-resident always needs to carry a license otherwise their hunting will not be legitimate.

For Agricultural landowners

Some states like Texas, Arizona, and Colorado give extra advantages to landowners. They can hunt species that belong to their farm or territory. But while hunting down animals for commercial purposes, need to possess their hunting license.

Remember, carrying an exact license and permit can give you an extra advantage in the field. An updated license can save you from unexpected situations like facing a sheriff or any kind of illegal charge.


Can I hunt without a license?

In America, hunting without a license is prohibited. Though there are some states that allow you to hunt without a license but you can hunt only waterfowl and migratory birds.

What is the best state for pheasant hunting?

South Dakota is home to the greatest pheasant hunting.

Which state has the most wildlife for hunting?

Arizona is regarded as the most wildlife-hunting state in the US. In the hunting season, most hunters take their trip to this biggest state of the USA.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a resident or a non-resident, it is important to understand and respect the hunting regulations in your state. For hunting lawfully, you always need to carry your license, which can make your hunting trip more exciting and safe.

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