You hunt hard and you play by the rules. As well-intentioned as are, it is easy to get lackadaisical, slip up and inadvertently break a hunting law. Here common violations and how to avoid a game warden’s ticket.
Read the Regulations
Season dates and bag limits change, the use of bait may be restricted, ever-evolving CWD rules are implemented… Whether you’ve hunted your state for 2 years or 20, it is your responsibility to read the regs from cover to cover and keep up to date with any and all rule changes before each season. If hunters would just do it, 95% of inadvertent violations could be avoided.
Carry the Right License
Sounds obvious, but license and tag requirements can be confusing. Here in Virginia, for example, you need a state hunting license and a separate big game license; if you bowhunt or use a muzzleloader or want to shoot a bear if you see one, you need specific permits for those too.
Study the regs and know the correct licenses and tags you need. Tip: I carry both an email or photo of all my licenses on my phone, and printed out and signed copies for good measure.
Get Written Permission
Montana’s Division of Wildlife says that hunting on private land without up-to-date permission is the ticket their wardens write the most. Ask a landowner to fill out, sign and date a new permission card for you before every season. Then use maps or an app on your smartphone to make sure you stay on the dirt where you have legal access.
I was getting ready at the truck one day in Kansas when a warden pulled in to check my license.
“You’ve got orange, right?’ he said, as I pulled on my blaze vest and cap.
“Good deal,” he replied. “Not wearing the proper amount of orange is the number one ticket I write in rifle season.”
Outside of Texas, you’ll need at least an orange hat, as well as a blaze outer vest in most states. Know for sure and wear it.
Having hunted in 35 states, I can tell you that case laws vary from state to state. This can be confusing, and you can get in one hell of a jam if you don’t know and follow the law.
Some require rifles or muzzleloaders to be in a soft case in a vehicle at all times, whether you’re hunting near home for the day or driving through one state to get to the next. Other states require guns be cased at certain times, such as when driving through public land.
A few states allow loaded firearms in vehicles, while other states permit shells in magazines (not the chamber). Read this section of the regs extra carefully and abide.
Punch Your Tag
Whenever I kill a doe or buck, I don’t move it an inch before I validate my tag. State laws vary. You might need to notch or fill out a paper tag with the date/time/county of the kill, and tape it to a deer’s leg or antler. Or do an “e-notch” on your phone.
Out West where hunters often quarter and pack a deer from a remote location, it’s required that evidence of an animal’s reproductive organ be left attached to a hindquarter.
Do whatever the state law requires before you drag your deer. Many states require you to check-in a kill as well by phone, online or in person, don’t forget to do that.