Pre-Season To Do: Read Your Hunting Regulations

tag deer

I have not read many hunting regulation booklets in the last 10 years. In fact I can’t remember the last time I read a state’s regs cover to cover. I doubt you can either.

That’s stupid on our part, because every state has quirky little rules and regulations that might never cross your mind. But ignorance is no defense. You and I could get our butts in a sling over some technicality if we don’t know the rules and follow them to a tee when we hunt deer.

This year before we go to any state to hunt and film, I have made a commitment to go online and read the regulations cover to cover. It’s boring, but necessary.

First up Kentucky, where I already found 2 requirements that I could have easily overlooked:

Print and download a harvest log to go with your license, every hunter is required to submit one…

All hunters shall attach a handmade carcass tag to any harvested deer…meat processors and taxidermists are prohibited by law from accepting any harvested animal, or parts of a harvested animal, without a carcass tag attached…tag must include the hunter’s name, phone number and telecheck confirmation number.

In the 30-plus states where I have hunted deer, I have never downloaded a harvest log, and I have never attached a “handmade tag” to a carcass. I have provided the necessary info to a processor when donating meat, but I have never written out a handmade tag.

Oh well, I have my Sharpie ready and hope to be write out my first carcass tag for an early-season buck next week!

BTW, I also found out that while coyotes are fair game in Kentucky year-round, bobcat season is closed during early archery. You need to know things like that. You don’t want to take a shot at a bobcat and find out later that you broke the law.

Read the rules and regulations in every new state you plan to hunt, and go back and read your home state’s regs too. I bet you’ll learn something you didn’t know.

9 thoughts on “Pre-Season To Do: Read Your Hunting Regulations

  1. I find it surprising that it’s been that long since the last time you read regs. Here in Minnesota, the regs are so complicated and lengthy that it’s a must every season. Have also read Wisconsin and Kansas regs the last two years as I’ve started hunting those states. I have often wondered if someone received a ticket for a convoluted piece of a regulation in Minnesota if they couldn’t use the lack of clarity as their defense. 4-5 guys have had lengthy discussions in our professional office debating the intent of a law and have to call DNR to get answer. We once got two different answers from two different conservation officers!

    • hanback here, I admit to having gotten complacent with reading the regs; you are right, they are getting more and more complicated these days, hence I advise all to read them.

  2. Great suggestion, Mike.

    One of my best hunting buddies was ticketed last season and had a buck confiscated when a game warden approached him at a dumpster site set up by the local Chamber of Commerce to benefit all the out of town hunters who bring many dollars into the local economy.

    Long story short, my buddy lives and works in Texas due to the nature of his job in the oil patch but he maintains a residence in Louisiana and retains his Louisiana driver’s license. He has an ID card with his Texas address on it issued by the State of Texas which is one of the required pieces of identification for obtaining a resident hunting license. My buddy has been purchasing resident Texas licenses for many years using the state issued ID, a current utility bill and other forms of proof of residency, he has never been challenged or denied a resident license, been checked by game wardens in the past, presented the license and all was fine. His monthly town home rental, utility bills, vehicle with Texas license plates and other items associated with living in a locale for approximately 270 days a year make the approximately $200 difference between the resident and non-resident hunting license very insignificant by comparison.

    Last season, he was throwing trash in the dumpsters when the game warden approached him, the warden was sitting at the dumpster site frequented by out of state and out of town hunters, engaging them in conversation and eventually asking to see their hunting license and driver’s license. My friend had no rack, meat or body parts in his possession, he had just left the game processor where he dropped off a properly tagged buck which was logged in at the processing facility and data obtained by several state biologists who had set up at the facility. They even got the license number from my buddy and checked it against the facility log. All was fine at this point.

    He volunteered the info that he had harvested a nice buck that morning, and it was at the processing facility. The game warden then proceeded to inform him he was hunting with an invalid license, had violated the law, ticketed him and drove to the processor to confiscate the deer. My buddy showed him the requirements to obtain the resident license, explained his work and living situation, shared that the state sold him the license based on his ability to produce the required forms of ID, but the game warden was having none of it. Rather than become engaged in a heated discussion, my friend simply accepted the ticket without signing it, demanded the warden return his license which the warden did with the caveat my friend would be hunting with an illegal license. He used the license thru the end of February to hunt with me in South Texas and took a good number of management bucks and does which we entered in our MLD harvest log, were visited by the biologist and game warden for the district and no one else challenged the resident license or asked for another form of ID in the process of looking at the license, harvest permits or harvest log data.

    My friend hired a local attorney to fight the ticket and confiscation, a court date was assigned, then changed several times, and my buddy is still awaiting his day in court. To top it all off, licenses went on sale August 15, he went to a sporting goods store in Houston and presented the requited forms of ID and was sold a resident hunting license again.

    Bottom line is that the game warden is interpreting the law one way, and it would appear the State of Texas and the legislature have a different view of what makes a person eligible for a resident license. My buddy’s attorney feels strongly he is in the right, the local business owners who are aware of the situation all have offered to show up on the court date to testify if required, and we are all prepared to tell what we know of his working and living situation. My friend has been attempting to do the right thing for many years, he has been sold the license by the State of Texas, yet it may end up that he will spend many dollars to defend his position and still be found guilty of a game violation.

    Talk about conflicting answers and interpretations of the law.

  3. Hanback, I figured big time TV hunters had “people” to do that kind of stuff. Put your legal department on it :)

    Wren, it sounds like your friend may be in the right, but just because a state will sell you a resident license doesn’t mean you are legal in hunting with that license. I know that for a fact.

  4. Not only as above, but many states have multiple management units that may have very different regs. A regular blogger here has a hunitng camp 10 miles from my place and has different regs because his area is on the north side of US Rt 6 and mine is on the south side. I hunt both sides of US Rt 6, so I carry the regs for what I am hunting to make sure I remember in my old age.

  5. Great idea to read regs. I hunt CT,ME,NY every year and it’s good to refresh what requirements are needed for each season/tags. The biggest and most important reg I have found is tagging/reporting/transporting your kill, wardens are not to forgiving on that.

    I know these states require to tag the animal immediately upon kill. That means when you recover the animal, not when you get back to your vehicle and report or check it in with in 18-24hrs. Always know boundaries and transporting regs wether the animal has to be visible while driving or not. Follow those and you’ll be the wardens best friend…..

  6. As often as things change, good idea to check every year as suggested…I started doing that a few years back….like lighted knocks, for instance: legal or not in your state?

Comments are closed.