Hunting on your own land, with or without a license, may seem like something you can do since you own the property, right? Well, it may not be so simple. Certain hunting laws apply even when dealing with private properties.
In nearly all cases, you need to have a license to hunt, and additionally, you can only hunt what’s in season, even on your own property. You should check your state hunting laws for full details since laws differ from state to state.
There are a lot of nuances to hunting, including seasons, weapons types, and more. That’s why we’ve prepared this article for you, to help you decide when, what, and how you can legally hunt on your own property.
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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!
Getting your hunting licenses sorted out doesn’t have to be complicated. Talk to your local Fish and Wildlife Services to ensure you’ve got the correct license for your preferred game, and you’ll be on your way.
Once you’ve sorted out your hunting license and decided where to hunt, you’ll need the proper gear to hunt safely and effectively. Here are our top three favorites:
1. Hunting Blind – An easy way to camouflage your presence in the woods.
2. Tree Stand – Get the best views while being comfortable.
3. Night-Vision Goggles – For early morning hunting.
Hunting on your property
For many, hunting is an enjoyable pastime. However, if you’re not following the law, hunting may come back to bite you.
So, let’s talk about common hunting laws and how to ensure you’re hunting where and when you should be.
Do You Need a License to Hunt on Your Own Property?
Unless your state grants exemptions to landowners, it’s safe to assume that you need a license or hunting permit to hunt game, even on your own property. While some states do make exceptions, it’s not the norm.
Always be sure to check your state laws, as they vary. For example, in Pennsylvania, there are different laws for landowners, disabled military veterans, former prisoners of war, owners of agricultural land, and more.
Can You Hunt Out of Season on Your Own Property?
You must follow all hunting laws for your state. In most cases, that means you cannot hunt out of season, even on your own property. If you’re caught with illegal game, you can be fined.
However, some states do allow out-of-season hunting with specific licenses or permits. These permits allow landowners to tag a certain amount of an out-of-season animal, usually for nuisance and population control.
Can I Hunt on My Own Land Without a License?
Most states require a license to hunt, whether on your own land or other public lands where hunting is allowed. If in doubt, contact your local Fish and Wildlife Service or check your state laws.
You also must follow the state laws regarding hunting seasons and cannot hunt outside of allowed seasons. Being found to hunt outside of season can result in large fines, losing your hunting license, and even having your hunting gear confiscated.
Do You Need a License to Shoot Deer on Your Property?
You should only be hunting in season, with a hunting license, even if you’re hunting on your property. Failure to follow the law when it comes to hunting puts your ability to get a license at risk, and if you’re caught, you may be fined and have your equipment confiscated.
However, some states allow hunting on your own property without a license or permit, so if you’re unsure, check with your state’s Fish and Wildlife Services for full information. You can also check your state’s hunting laws.
What Do I Need to Hunt on My Own Land?
The most important thing you need to get before you go hunting, even if you’re hunting on your own land, is a permit or license to hunt game. You must establish what you’re hunting for and can only hunt for what’s in season.
Once you’ve got your permits, here are some other things you will need:
- Field Dressing Kit
- Odor Neutralizers
- Range Finder
- Warm Clothing
- Hunting Blind
- Night Vision Goggles
- Light Source
License and Permits
While it’s better to be safe than sorry and get yourself a hunting permit for the season, some states don’t require one. So, in this section, we’ll get into more details surrounding where and when you can legally hunt.
Is It Legal to Hunt on Sundays?
Hunting on Sundays used to be outlawed in all 50 states. However, that is no longer the case. In most states, you can now hunt on Sundays if you have the proper licensing and permits.
There are only 11 states currently where you cannot hunt on Sundays:
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Do You Need a Hunting License to Hunt Coyotes?
In most cases, you need a general hunting permit to hunt coyotes legally. While coyotes do not have a hunting season, you still need a permit or license to hunt or trap them, even on your own property.
Most coyote hunting permits are good for an entire year, and there aren’t a whole lot of rules surrounding the hunting of coyotes due to them being predators. However, it is still illegal to hunt without a license.
What License Do I Need to Hunt Deer?
To legally hunt deer, you need a permit or license from the state where you’re hunting. Typically, there will be a special deer permit, typically for does or bucks, depending on the season and license type.
You should check with the Fish and Wildlife Service in your state for all the specifics you’ll need to hunt deer, especially if your state requires different permits for doe versus buck.
Otherwise, you may accidentally hunt something you do not have a permit for.
What Is the Fine for Hunting Without a License?
Fines may vary slightly by state, but if you are found hunting without a license, you may have to pay a fine up to or above $2,000. Additionally, you may be arrested, spend up to a year in prison, and will have to forfeit your hunting gear and weapons.
You will also have your hunting license privileges revoked and may be eligible for even greater fines if you are caught hunting illegally again. This is why you always want to check your state laws before hunting.
How Far Do You Have to Be From a House to Hunt Legally?
According to the US Forest Service, you must be at least 150 feet away from a residence, a developed recreation site (i.e., a park or other public access area), or anywhere people are likely to congregate.
Other important rules for legal hunting, according to the US Department of Agriculture, include not shooting across bodies of water or into a cave or open mine shaft. All these rules are designed for safety and should be followed at all times.
Can a Felon Hunt?
With a state-issued hunting license, released felons can hunt during hunting season using crossbows, bows, and arrows, and even airguns, as long as these ways of hunting are permitted and covered under state licensing.
Under federal law, felons lose their rights to owning, using, or possessing a firearm, so they cannot use any kind of firearm for hunting.
However, they are still allowed to use other forms of hunting equipment.
Hunting specific Animals
Knowing what your license covers and what animals are currently in hunting season is vital to safe and legal hunting.
If you’re going to engage in this process, it is important to know what you’re after. So, next, we’re discussing which hunting season occurs when.
How Many Acres Do You Need for Deer Hunting?
To safely hunt deer and to have the best chance of having deer on the land, you need at least ten acres for deer hunting. Additionally, ensure that you are only hunting further than 150 feet from any occupied space.
These laws are to assure that no one is harmed while hunting. This is also why hunters are encouraged to wear something orange while hunting. While camo is good to blend in, wearing an orange hat to show you’re there is a great way to stay safe!
Are Coyotes Considered Game Animals?
Coyotes are not typically considered game animals. In fact, in most states, they are considered non-game animals and are legally huntable year-round. You do still need a valid license to hunt them, however.
Most non-game animals are animals that are not hunted, and can sometimes be endangered species, so ensure that you are only hunting legal animals, such as coyotes, even if you have a license.
Can You Shoot a Bobcat?
Whether or not you can hunt, trap, or shoot a bobcat depends on the state. In some places, such as New Jersey, harming a bobcat is always illegal. However, in other places, such as North Carolina, you can trap a bobcat during hunting season.
You can check whether or not bobcats are legal hunting game in your state by checking with your state’s Fish and Wildlife Service. They will also be able to give you the permits necessary to hunt them.
Can a Non-Hunter Accompany a Hunter?
Everyone in your party should have a hunting license if they’re going to accompany you while you hunt. Even if they do not intend to hunt, they need a permit or license in most states.
However, in states where they can legally accompany you without a license, they are not legally allowed to actively hunt with you.
They may assist in field dressing and the like, but they cannot engage in the act of hunting.
Can You Carry a Pistol While Bow Hunting?
In more states than not, you can carry a firearm while bow hunting. This is said to protect hunters from large predators. However, you must have a carry permit to be allowed to do this.
Additionally, not all states allow you to carry firearms while bow hunting, so check your state laws before taking a pistol with you to bow hunt. If you are unsure if you can legally carry a firearm, we suggest protecting yourself with bear-grade mace.
Can You Bait for Deer Legally?
You cannot legally bait deer on public or state game lands. However, on private property, it varies by state whether you can legally bait deer. Currently, there are 14 states where baiting deer is allowed.
These states include:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
You might also enjoy our post on Can I Shoot a Fox in my Yard?
Is It Illegal to Sell Deer Antlers?
As long as you have a permit to hunt the deer and follow all laws for the sale of antlers and taxidermy after the fact, it is legal to sell deer antlers. Check your state laws for full information.
You should also check whether or not it’s legal to sell deer antlers still attached to a deer skull in your state, as it is sometimes illegal to sell skulls.
Additionally, if you cannot prove that you had the legal right to hunt, you can still be fined for possessing the antlers.
Can a Game Warden Come On Private Property?
Just like police officers and other federal agents, a game warden needs a warrant or probable cause to come onto your private property in most states. However, some states allow spot checks and constant access to private lands.
Game wardens must follow the rules set forth by the state they represent and, therefore, the laws associated with that state. So, check your state laws if you’re unsure what the local game warden can do.
Do I Need a Tree Stand to Bow Hunt?
You do not need a tree stand to bow hunt. If your hunting grounds don’t feature a good spot to put a tree stand, you may want to use a ground blind or just keep spotting and moving around instead.
While some hunters do prefer the comfort of a tree stand, both for visibility and self-camouflaging, it’s not necessary. Many still have great luck using a ground blind or simply forgoing both and stalking your game.
While hunting isn’t for everyone, if it’s something you do to supplement your food supply, it’s necessary. Just be sure you’re getting all proper permits and licenses and only hunting for legal game animals.