Youth Hunting Age Limits – Licences & Rules for Each State

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Do you want to find out more about youth hunting? Do you want to know whether there are age restrictions in your state? Then this article can help.  Take note that if you are interested in youth hunting, then the whole process takes more than just investing in the right gears, like hunting boots with a rubberized sole or a premium hunting backpack.

It is also advisable to collect as much information about this activity as possible, especially age limits. You can learn about that through this informative article.

Why Are Hunting Age Limits Important

Hunting age limits are important mainly for safety purposes. It is especially true when it involves youth. Most states put in place a sort of age restriction for the youth to be allowed to hunt. You can use a youth compound bow when hunting, but only when you have met the age limits set by your state.

One reason behind the restriction is to ensure that young hunters are already old enough to handle everything about this activity maturely. Some states even mandate young hunters to take up a hunter education course as well as that related to learning safety instructions when holding firearms.

The youth hunter should be at the age when he can familiarize himself with firearms as well as the safety guidelines he has to follow prior to going out on a hunting session. The age limits also aim to ensure that the entire activity will not turn out to be a traumatic experience for kids. Furthermore, it helps prevent kids from developing unwanted tendencies to violence.

Youth Only Hunts and Seasons

Youth only hunts and seasons are available at present. These hunts and seasons provide young hunters to enjoy this activity together with their mentors if they deem necessary. Among the hunting opportunities meant for the youth are:

Big Game

Elk

Elk hunting is allowed for the youth. It has a longer season, which falls between August 1 and December 31. Aspiring hunters aged twelve to seventeen years old can participate in the hunt. However, they also need to meet a few other requirements, like completing a hunter safety class and acquiring a hunting license. It is also important for them to submit their application before May 15.

Deer

The youth can also participate in deer hunting. Young hunters who have an unfilled general season deer tag from Western Oregon, W. High Cascade, and Hood-White River controlled hunt tag can participate in a hunt in Western Oregon during the general deer season.

Those who are part of the Mentored Youth Hunt program, however, can’t take part in this event because it is only designed for those with their own tag. As for the age restrictions, those who are around twelve to seventeen years old during the hunting period are allowed to take part in the hunt.

Youth Hunting Licenses

Game Birds

Upland Bird

Another opportunity for youth hunters is the youth pheasant hunt, which often takes place in state wildlife areas and private lands every September. You just have to make sure that you are seventeen years or younger, so you will be allowed to be in this hunt.

It is also necessary to have a non-hunting adult who is 21 years above to accompany you. Moreover, there should be a valid hunting license for those who are 12 years and above, as well as a Hunter Education Certificate.

Spring Youth Turkey Hunt

Another hunting opportunity for the youth takes place during the weekend prior to the start of the annual General Spring Turkey Season. It is an opportunity for those who are 17 years old below.

While there is no need to apply or register for this hunting opportunity, it is still necessary to meet certain requirements – among which are being 17 years and younger and having one non-hunting adult below 21 years old to accompany you. If you are 12 and above, then it is also advisable for you to get a valid hunting license. Furthermore, you should not be part of a mentored youth hunt program.

Waterfowl

You may also be a participant in youth waterfowl hunts often held in a various federal refuge and wildlife areas every winter or fowl. Aside from that, you can also take part in the waterfowl season that happens during the late part of September.

Those who want to be part of the waterfowl hunt season should be 17 years old and below and with a non-hunting adult over 21 years old. Furthermore, it is important to prepare the necessary valid hunter education certificate, hunting license (for those 12 and above), as well as a federal waterfowl stamp (for aspiring participants over 16 years old).

Youth Licenses

With proper youth licenses, you have a higher chance of being part of any hunting event/season. You can use your license to hunt and hit a target with a recurve bow or any other hunting gear. Just make sure that you also prepare the other requirements.

Youth License

The youth license that you can get is not only limited for use on hunting. You can also use it for fishing and shellfish. Whether you are a resident or non-resident in a state, you can get this license for $10.

Youth Sports Pac

If you are a resident and get the Youth Sports Pac license, expect to be required to spend around $55. It will give you a combination license for hunting, fishing, and shellfish as well as tags for a number of possible targets, like turkey, elk, and deer. Aside from that, you will also get validation for waterfowl and upland bird season.

However, take note that you will not be able to get the tags automatically. It will not be issued right after the issuance of your Youth Sports Pac license. You have to pick up these tags a day prior to the opening of the earliest hunt for controlled bear, elk, and deer. For the general bear, you can get the tag by September 3o.

Types of Youth Hunting

Types of Youth Hunting

Aside from learning about the world’s best coyote calls or gathering the most necessary hunting gears, like the folding hunting knives, it is essential for the youth to get familiar with the different types of hunting that are allowed for their age. Among the types of youth hunting that you should familiarize yourself with are the following:

Supervised Big Game Hunting

This type of youth hunting makes it possible for kids to participate in various states holding it. As the name suggests, it lets the kids hunt, regardless of their age, but with the necessary supervision.

Hunting Big Game Alone

This is another type of youth hunting that has certain age restrictions based on the state where you want to do the hunt. States without a minimum age for hunting often require participants to complete a hunter education course.

In general, it is advisable to be at least 10 years old, so you can understand every little detail included in the course. To give you an idea about the age limit, here are some states that allow hunting big game alone and the minimum age of participants they require.

  • Alabama, Indiana, Illinois, Washington, Vermont, and New Mexico – no age limit
  • Arkansas – at least 6 years
  • Texas – at least 9 years
  • Arizona, Alaska, and Tennessee – at least 10 years
  • Oklahoma and Missouri – at least 11 years

Other states have their own minimum age requirement and it is advisable to gather information about it depending on where you intend to play.

Youth Hunting Age Limit Regulations

Hunter Education

Before a youth 17 years and below can hunt, it is important for him to be successful in completing a hunter education course. The course can be taken in any state in the US, as well as in Mexico and Canada. It is also necessary to get a hold of your Hunter Education Certificate.

Alternatively, you can present a document issued by a department that holds your hunter education certification number. Having this certificate or document will let you hunt in any place.

Hunter Orange

Here, the regulation states that only those who are 18 years and above can hunt using firearms for upland game birds and game mamma. This regulation is applicable unless you are wearing a hunter orange exterior garment or hunt in such a way that you have a high level of visibility in various directions.

Youth Specific Regulations

One thing you have to take note of here is that no youth who are below 11 years are allowed to hunt for big game with the exception of those who take part in a mentored youth hunter program.

Another rule and regulation to remember is that any of the youth hunters 13 years and below must have someone, specifically an adult at least 21 years old, to accompany them. They need such a companion whenever they hunt on a property apart from the land and property that their legal guardian or parents own.

Controlled Hunts

As for controlled hunts, you have to know that you need a youth license to take part in any controlled hunt drawing event. You can apply for this event provided you are 12 years old and above. It is also necessary to have a hunter education course completed. For those who are around nine to eleven years old, they can buy point saver applications but it is important for them to have a valid youth license, too.

Another rule to follow regarding youth controlled hunts is that only those who are around twelve to seventeen years can participate. Furthermore, you have to know that the youth is not only restricted to apply for a youth controlled hunt. They can also try looking for other controlled hunts and apply for them.

Youth Hunting Age Limits by State

Youth Hunting Age Limits by State

Alabama

  • Supervised hunting does not have any age limit.
  • 16-year-old deer hunters have to present a license.

Alaska

  • 10 years and above to be allowed to hunt on their own
  • Basic hunter education is necessary for those below 16. Alternatively, they can hunt with a licensed hunter who supervises them.

Arizona

  • 10 years and above for big game hunting
  • 13 years and above must present a hunter education certificate

Arkansas

  • No age limit provided the youth is with a hunter who directly supervises him. The hunter needs to be at least 12 and should have a valid hunting license.
  • 16-year-old hunters need a hunting license.

California

  • At least 12 years to buy a deer tag
  • Does not require a minimum age to buy a hunting license provided there is proof that the applicant gained hunter education

Colorado

  • At least 12 years to participate in big game hunting with certain limitations and restrictions until you reach 18
  • Completion of a hunter education course needed

Connecticut

  • At least 12 years provided you have also successfully taken a firearms and conservation education course
  • At least 16 years to hunt on your own
  • Hunting license needed and a licensed hunter eighteen years and above to accompany or supervise the youth

Delaware

  • 10 years and above to take the hunter education course in the state and attain certification. This will let you take part in youth hunts.
  • Youth hunters from 13 to 15 must be accompanied by a licensed 21-year-old and above adult.

Florida

  • 16 years and above to hunt alone provided you have a hunter’s safety course taken up
  • 16 and below youth do not have any restriction when participating in supervised hunting provided a 21-year-old and above licensed adult is with them.

Georgia

  • 12 years and above while having completed a hunter education course
  • 12 and below hunters do not need to take up the course but a lawful hunter 18 years and above should directly supervise them

Hawaii

  • At least 16 to hunt on their own

Idaho

  • At least 12 for big game hunting, 1o for supervised hunting, and 12 for solo hunting

Illinois

  • Can hunt alone provided they are at least 16 years

Indiana

  • No age restriction – However, it is crucial for an 18-year-old and above apprentice hunter to communicate with an 18-year-old and above licensed deer hunter.

Iowa

  • 11 years and above can register legally for hunter education
  • 16 years and below should have a license and an 18-year-old licensed hunter as a companion

Kansas

  • No minimum age required for deer and big game hunting
  • 16 years and below need direct supervision by an 18-year-old and above adult to hunt even without hunter education

Kentucky

  • Youth hunters aged twelve to fifteen should have a youth sportsman’s license. An adult should accompany them, too.
  • Those below twelve years need to have a companion 18 years and above.

Louisiana

  • Hunters 16 and below can only hunt with an 18-year-old and above adult who can supervise them. They also need to present a valid hunting license.

Maine

  • 10 years and below should not hunt
  • Over ten years to take part in archery and firearms safety course
  • 10 to 15-year-old hunters need a junior license.
  • 16-year-old and above can hunt with a valid adult license.

Maryland

  • 14 years and below should have a participating adult in their hunting sessions.
  • Those below 16 can take part in the hunter certification program for juniors.

Michigan

  • License needed for those 12 and above when planning to hunt on private lands. A licensed adult should also be around to supervise them.

Minnesota

  • 10 to 11 hunters may get a free firearm license for big game hunting.
  • 11-year-olds can take a firearm safety course.
  • 12 and 13-year-old hunters need their guardians or parents to accompany them.

Mississippi

  • 12 and below who want to do deer hunting should be directly supervised and accompanied by a 21-year-old and above licensed hunter.

Youth Hunting Age Limits by State - Mississippi

Missouri

  • 6 to 15-year-old hunters need to present a youth hunting permit. It is also important for them to have an adult at least 18 years to mentor or accompany them.

Montana

  • 12 to 17-year-old youth hunters need to complete a hunter education to get a hunting license for free.

Nebraska

  • Those who are around 10 to 11 can hunt with a 19-year-old and above licensed deer hunter’s supervision.
  • 12 to 15-year-old hunters need to finish a program dedicated to firearm education. A licensed hunter over 19 years should also accompany them.

Nevada

  • Youth hunters should be around 12 to 15 years old for them to buy a hunting license but they need their legal guardian or parental signature.

New Hampshire

  • A minimum of 12 years by the time a hunter completes the hunter education course and certification
  • No age limit for youth hunters but an 18-year-old and above licensed adult should accompany them

New Jersey

  • Young hunters around ten to thirteen years should have a licensed adult over 21 years to accompany them.
  • 16-year-olds can buy the hunting license

New Mexico

  • Below 18 hunters require a certification to buy or apply for a firearm license

New York

  • Hunters who are around 12 to 15 need to personally apply for the sportsman education certification for the first time.
  • Those who are 14 to 15 years old are allowed to do bear and deer hunting using a firearm but an adult, guardian, or parent over 21 years should mentor them.
  • Should be around 12 to 13 years old to do small game hunting

North Carolina

  • 12 to 16 years old can hunt provided they have completed a hunter safety course and come with a licensed adult

North Dakota

  • 12 to 13-year old young hunters can get an antlerless whitetail deer license.
  • Those who are 14 to 15 can get a youth hunter’s license.

Ohio

  • Hunters below 17 years need the company of an adult above 18 years old.

Oklahoma

  • Hunter education course needed for those 10 years and below. A licensed hunter over 21 should also be around to accompany them.
  • Those over 10 years can hunt on their own but only after they completed a hunter education successfully and bought a license.

Oregon

  • 12-year-old hunters need to buy an adult hunting license.
  • Those who are around 9 to 12 years old need to invest in a hunting license to take part in point saver programs.
  • 13-year-old and below needs the company of an adult 21 and above every time they hunt.

Pennsylvania

  • Those who hunt for the first time should have successfully completed a hunter-trapper education.
  • Adult supervision is required for junior license holders and those who are 12 to 16 years old.

Rhode Island

  • Junior hunters around 12 to 14 years should complete a basic hunter safety course. A licensed and qualified adult over 21 should also accompany them in the hunt.

South Carolina

  • Those who are twelve and below need a guardian to accompany them during their hunter education class.
  • Hunters below 17 can take part in youth hunts.

South Dakota

  • Youth hunters ages 12 to 15 can only buy a hunting license if they have firearms hunter safety cards.
  • Youth hunters 10 to 16 years old should take part in the mentored hunter program.

Tennessee

  • Young hunters ten years and above need to adhere to the requirements related to hunter education.
  • Hunters around six to sixteen years old need a non-hunting adult over 21 years to accompany them.

Texas

  • Those who are around 9 to 16 need an adult who is 17 and above who has a hunting license in Texas to accompany them.

Utah

  • Hunters should be at least twelve to participate in big game hunting.
  • Those below 16 need the supervision and company of their legal guardian, parent, or any other responsible adult over 21 years.

Vermont

  • Youth hunters below 16 need their guardians or parents to sign with an issuing agent as the witness in order to get a hunting license.

Virginia

  • If you are a first-time hunter around the ages of 12 to 15, then you will be mandated to take and complete a hunter education course.
  • Those below 12 require the company and direct supervision of a designated adult, guardian, or parent.

West Virginia

  • The youth below the age of 15 are not allowed to hunt on public properties and lands – that is unless a licensed adult over the age of 18 accompanies them.

Wisconsin

  • Beginners in hunting who are at least 10 years should take part in the state’s hunting mentorship program.
  • Those below 12 can’t get a hunting license.

Wyoming

  • At least 12 years old required for big game hunting.
  • Young hunters should be with a mentor who is 18 years and above and has a valid license issued in the state.

Youth First-Time Hunt Program

Youth First-Time Hunt Program

If it is your first time to apply for a hunt program, then you need to be aware of the rules and regulations regarding it. Note that aside from learning the basics of youth hunting, like how to adjust your climbing tree stand, it is also necessary to familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations regarding youth hunting in your state.

By adhering to the rules and regulations, you can go on hunting and make use of your gears – one of which is a quiet bow sight or a high-quality bow sight that’s easy to set up.

Who May Apply

Aspiring youth hunters who are considered as residents of the stage and are aged 12 to 17 can apply for the program. Eleven-year-old youths can also apply provided at the exact time they intend to hunt, they will turn twelve. Youth hunters may not also need to use first-time tags if they are already 18.

Other young hunters who can apply are those who applied in the past but were not successful in getting permission for the controlled hunts of the 100, 200, and/or 600 series.

Eligible Hunts

This first-time hunt program for the youth is actually applicable to every controlled hunt, which adheres to the minimum tag allocation required. These include:

  • Buck Deer 100 Series, which requires a minimum of 201 tags
  • Elk 200 Series, which requires at least 51 tags
  • Antlerless deer 600 Series, which requires a minimum of 51 tags

How to Apply

Step 1 – Submit your application

Do this if you feel like you have met all the criteria. It should let you request for your chosen tag. Keep in mind that the application does not require you to pay any additional fees.

Step 2 – Complete the application and submit it after July 1

The time your application is received should also be prior to the start of the hunt.

Step 3 – Input a max of five choices for every hunt series

Doing this step is important in ensuring the receipt of at least one eligible hunt. Keep in mind, though, that your hunt choices may differ from the ones in the controlled hunt drawing, which is not successful.

Step 4 – Wait for a tag to be assigned to you in the first listed eligible hunt

You can then buy the tag after the processing of your application.

Important Things to Know

  • Completing a hunter education course successfully is necessary by the time of the youth’s participation in the hunt.
  • Success in any chosen hunt in a series will cause the youth to lose his eligibility for the first-time tag in such series.
  • You can’t use preference points if you take part in the first-time program.
  • It is necessary to get the tag for the controlled tag prior to the start of the actual hunt.
  • You are allowed to use your first-time choices irrespective of the combination – ex. one annually, all in just one year, and annual gaps in between each tag.
  • You can’t consider first-time tags as additional tags.
  • Other types of hunters who have suitable tags can also hunt together with the youth.

Mentored Youth Hunter Program

With the help of this program, the youth will have the chance to gain one-on-one and mentored field training. The training will tackle a lot of things related to hunting, including safety, ethics, responsibility, and fun and entertainment. A licensed adult will supervise the youth closely during the whole duration of the program.

Youth Participation

Whether the youth is a resident or not, he can participate in this program. He can take part in it even without the need to pass the hunter education program but he needs to adhere to the following requirements:

  • 9 to 15 years old
  • Have a 21-year old and above supervising hunter who accompanies him during each hunt. The adult also needs to have a valid tag and license for the specific area, species, and date of the hunt.
  • Free annual registration completed
  • Has a verified program registration during the hunt
  • Continues to be under the control of the adult supervising him all the time, especially if the youth needs to use a legal weapon for hunting
  • Wears a hunter exterior garment in orange. It could be a sweater, vest, jacket, shirt, or coat.

Supervising Hunter

Mentored Youth Hunter Program

For the supervising hunter to be eligible to be with the youth during the hunt, he must meet these requirements:

  • Can show a valid tag or license for the specific date, specie, and area of the hunt
  • Retains full and immediate control of the youth being mentored, especially when the youth holds a legal weapon.
  • Adheres to all the hunting regulations in the state
  • Has full accountability and responsibility for the actions of the youth hunter during each hunting event
  • Has only one youth being mentored and supervised
  • Finished reviewing all the details related to safe hunting practices, specifically the ones provided in the registration document of the mentored youth hunter program
  • Does not have over one legal hunting weapon

Seasons and Bag Limits

In terms of seasons and bag limits, one thing you have to remember is that all the wildlife that the mentored youth hunter harvested needs to be counted to the bag limit of the supervising hunter. It is also important to note that this mentored hunting program for the youth can’t be applied to youth-only hunts and seasons.

The main reason behind this is that the youth being mentored is only allowed to take the animal that his supervising hunter can harvest legally. It becomes a problem during youth-only hunts because the supervising hunter will not be able to harvest an animal legally in such situations.

Mentored Youth Preference Points

  • The youth who is taking part in this youth hunting program will gain a youth a preference point every year he registers for it.
  • There is a licensing system where your acquired youth preference points will be held and backed without any expiration date.
  • Every time you redeem your preference points, expect them to come in the form of a preference point system where it will be converted to. The conversion is also subject to the administrative rules and regulations governing preference points in Oregon.
  • It is important to use any redeemed points one time only. Do not split it into the different controlled hunt series.

Youth-Only Hunts

Special Permit Categories

  • The applicants should be around 8 to 16 years old during the time they applied.
  • It is important to apply with an 18-year-old or above non-hunting supervising adult.
  • The youth is the only one who gains permission to hunt.
  • The supervising adult can mentor more than one youth hunter. However, in the case of the youth, he only needs to have one adult to supervise or mentor him.
  • Hunters below 12 require the direct supervision of an adult who also needs to be within normal voice distance.
  • The youth hunters and the adult’s permits will be forfeited when the guardian or parent fails to give proper supervision and monitoring to the youth.
  • Those who participate in youth-only hunts will enjoy the waiving of the permit and application fees.

US Forest Service Antlerless Deer Permits

  • Applicants should be below 17 years old without any minimum requirement when it comes to age.
  • Submit the youth application in person. A supervising adult is no longer necessary during this application.
  • The youth is allowed to submit only one application in the category.
  • A valid yearly public hunting permit is what the supervising adult needs to present.

E-Postcard Selection Hunts

  • The youth who can apply for this hunt should be 17 years old and below.
  • You are allowed to send your applications to more than one area in just a single category. However, you can only send an application once in every area within the category. The youth category application has a limitation of only three areas.
  • You can participate in the hunt with the supervision of an adult hunter with a valid hunting permit.

National Wildlife Refuge Hunts

  • The youth applications should be between 9 and 16 years old during the specific time of application.
  • The youth is required to apply together with a supervising adult – a non-hunting one who is 18 years old and above.
  • The youth is the only one permitted to perform the hunt.
  • Adult supervision within a normal voice distance is required for youth hunters below 12 years.
  • Applying for more than one area for every category is allowed.

Youth/Adult Hunts

E-Postcard Selection Hunts

  • Youth can apply for this hunt if he is below 17 years old.
  • You are allowed to send your application to a max of three areas per category. However, you can only do it once in every area in a single category.
  • A minimum of one youth participant should consist of every hunting or application party.
  • Every selected youth and adult participant will gain permission to hunt.
  • The number of applicants for every application tends to differ based on the required size of the group.
  • Taking part in the hunt requires every supervising adult and adult hunter to have their own annual hunting permit.

FAQ

Can I hunt by myself at 16?

The answer to this question will depend on the specific state where you live or you plan to hunt. In most cases, you can actually hunt at the age of 16 but with certain requirements that you have to meet. Among them are taking up hunting education course and being under the supervision of an adult.

Conclusion

Apart from learning the fact about the best gears that you can use for youth hunting (for example, your duck hunting wader should be light in weight for it to help you during each hunt), it is also advisable to learn if there are any age limits that you have to adhere to before you can start the hunt. Research the youth hunting age limits in your state. That way, you will be able to enjoy this activity without any legal repercussions. 

Photos from: DmitryPoch / depositphotos.com, fotosedrik / depositphotos.com, tammykayphoto / depositphotos.com, stetsik / depositphotos.com, RodimovPavel / depositphotos.com and Demian / depositphotos.com.

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