Skip to main content

Necessary Paperwork: How to Get a Hunting License

Have you finally decided to go deer hunting with your buddies? Was the lure of good food, good people and hanging out at deer camp too much? If you are going to go hunting with them, there are a few things you need to do. The first thing you’re going to need is a hunting license. There are a few things you can do to make purchasing a hunting license trouble-free. Let’s discover how to get a hunting license.

female bowhunter

What Type of License Do You Need?

The first thing you will be asked is “What type of license do you need?” There are a few things to consider when answering that question:

  • What type of game will you be hunting? Depending on the species you plan to hunt, you may need an additional federal duck stamp, migratory bird permit or big game stamp to hunt the game you want.
  • What type of firearm do you plan to use? In most states, you will need to purchase a permit to hunt with archery equipment or primitive weapons.

What Are the Requirements?

States don’t care if you are ground blind hunting, tree saddle hunting or things like that, but they do have other requirements. These requirements are unique to each state, so be sure to check the requirements for the state you plan to hunt. Here are a few requirements to consider:

  • Almost every state requires a hunters’ safety course for people in certain age groups. After passing a hunters’ safety course, you are given a card that proves you have completed the course. You will need the card before purchasing a hunting license. The good thing is all 50 states recognize each other’s hunters’ safety course. If you have one, it’s good anywhere.
  • Keep in mind that states require your Social Security number to purchase a hunting license. Most states will also use that to see if you owe child support or back taxes. If you do, you’re not going to get a hunting license in that state. 
  • You will need a state ID card or driver’s license to prove your age and residency.
  • Some states will give veterans, senior citizens or the disabled discounts when purchasing a hunting license. You will have to provide proof that you are allowed these discounts. 

Where Are You Hunting?

Make sure you know where deer camp is. In some states, the county, game management unit or area you plan to hunt has its own unique licensing requirements. 

  • If you’re hunting on private land, then a state issued hunting license is normally okay.
  • In some states like Colorado, only a certain number of licenses are given to each game management unit to avoid over-hunting. Other states use a lottery to award a given number of hunters a license. Check the regulations for your state to see if you’re hunting in an area like this and plan accordingly. Don’t forget that a request for licenses or tags in these areas has to be submitted by a certain date.
  • Various states require public land hunting permits. If you plan on hunting quail with hunting dogs on public land, you should check the state’s regulations before you go. 
  • Other public lands, like U.S. Forest Service land and Corps of Engineers land, will require permits to hunt. In many cases, a permit is needed per location and often requires an additional parking permit.
  • Pay special attention to when these licenses and permits expire. You do not want to buy a license in August only to have it expire in September. 

buying hunting license

Where Can I Buy a License?

Many different authorized businesses can sell you a hunting license; here are just a few places to buy a license:

  • Authorized sporting goods store
  • Authorized firearms store
  • Authorized big box store
  • State office of natural resources

Probably the easiest way to buy your hunting license is online. It may take a couple of weeks before you get it in the mail. Many states will allow you to print it out or keep it in your phone if your hunting trip starts before you get the license. 

The Price to Pay

The cost of a license varies from state to state. In other words, it’s a menu system and what you add to the order usually adds to the cost. Each state sets its own price for each item you add to the menu.

If you’re buying your license online and are worried that you’re buying things you don’t need, then buy from a place that sells licenses all the time. They can usually answer your questions and get you going quickly. Many states also have a hotline to help.

If you’re going to hunt a specific species and nothing else, you can save money by buying only a general hunting license. For instance, if you are rabbit hunting, all you need is a general hunting license. If you’re going to hunt rabbits, deer and ducks, you will need to add various tags and stamps. In this case, a combination license can save you money. You can also add things like a freshwater and saltwater fishing license to a combo license. 

U.S. Forest Service and Corps of Engineers land permits can be purchased online or in the local office. If you plan on hunting these areas, check on parking permits before you go. In some cases, you must purchase them in person. There is almost always a fee for a permit to hunt U.S. Forest Service and Corps of Engineers land.

elk tag

Know Before You Go

All this may sound like one big hassle. It’s really not as bad as it sounds, and a helpful clerk from a sporting goods store or a hunting buddy can make things easier. After you have bought your first license, you will find it gets easier to do every year after that. Now you’re ready to join your buddies at deer camp. Enjoy the food and don’t believe everything you hear!

Mossy Oak store hunting gear

Latest Content