Hunting Laws

Unlike soccer, basketball or baseball, hunting is one of the few sports directly governed and regulated by U.S. law. In fact, before hunters can even begin practicing their sport, they need to get a government-sanctioned hunting license and be abreast of hunting regulations.

However, because most hunting laws and regulations are created by state governments, namely the State Department of Fish and Game, different states have distinct rules and requirements for those hunting within their boundaries. As a result, hunters have to have a license for the particular state in which they are hunting to ensure that they understand that state”s hunting regulations.

For example, a California hunter planning a hunting trip in Michigan will have to a new hunting license for Michigan before he can start hunting in that state.

Another unique feature of hunting laws and regulations is the fact that they can pertain to specific animals and areas of land. In general, endangered species and state parks are off limits to hunters.

In this section, we will highlight some of the most common hunting laws that affect the sport. Our articles will relate what is permitted versus what is illegal to effectively inform you on how to hunt in accordance with the law.

Hunting Licenses

Because each individual state issues hunting licenses to those who want to hunt within its borders, the steps you have to take to get a hunting license for a specific state will vary from state to state. However, in general, most states simply require that you buy a hunting license through one of a few chosen sources, which typically include:

  • bait shops
  • certain sporting goods stores
  • marinas
  • online
  • the Department of Fish and Game
  • the Department of Natural Resources.

The cost of hunting licenses will depend on whether or not you are a resident of that state, as well as the type of game you plan on hunting.

While hunting licenses usually cost less for residents of the state (as opposed to non-residents), they are also less expensive if you plan on hunting for a shorter period of time (i.e. one day as opposed to three) or if you aren?t bringing a hunting dog. Be sure to research the requirements and costs associated with hunting licenses for the state in which you plan to hunt.

Private Property and Trespassing

In addition to making sure that you have the appropriate hunting license, you will also have to be aware of where the borders of private property lie so that you don?t trespass while hunting. As with hunting licenses, state governments oversee and enact trespassing laws, meaning that they too will vary from state to state.

While trespassing is always illegal, some states have created laws that specifically apply to trespassing during hunting. Alternately, other states simply apply general trespassing laws to both hunters and non-hunters alike.

Although trespassing laws are unique to specific states, keep in mind that about 50 percent of states in the United States don?t require property owners to post signs warning against trespassing on private property. This means that hunters will have to study and know where public-private property boundaries lie to avoid trespassing.


Georgia Department of Natural Resources (n.d.). Hunting. Retrieved December 5, 2007 from the Georgia DNR Web site:

eNotes (n.d.). Trespassing. Retrieved December 5, 2007 from the eNotes Web site: