Most violations are the result of honest mistakes just like these
You love to hunt, and you play by the rules. As well-intentioned as you may be, it is easy to get lackadaisical and inadvertently break a hunting law. Here are the 7 most common reasons deer hunters get tickets.
1. Failure to Read the Regs
Season dates and bag limits change, the use of bait may be restricted when it once wasn't, 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 all rule changes before each season. If all hunters did that, 95% of inadvertent violations could be avoided.
2. Not Carrying the Right License
License and tag requirements can be confusing, especially if you hunt multiple states. 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 and signed copies for good measure.
3. No 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.
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4. Pushing Shooting Light
Wear a watch and check the regs or a phone app for the legal shooting times every day. Do not push the ½-hour-before sunrise or ½-hour after sunset provision by even one minute.
5. Not Wearing Orange
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 asked. I pulled on my blaze vest and cap. Good deal, he said. 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.
6. Improper Gun Casing
Having hunted in 35 states, I can tell you that case laws vary just about everywhere, and you can get in one hell of a jam if you don't know and follow the law. Some states 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 across several counties. Other states require guns be cased at certain times, such as when driving through public land. Only a few states allow loaded firearms in vehicles, and some permit loaded magazines, so long as chambers are empty. Read this section of the regs extra carefully and abide.
7. Not Punching a 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 you may need to call or use an app to validate the tag. 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. Know what the state law requires before pulling the trigger — you did read all the regs, right?
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