Every year, usually in the fall, thousands if not millions of hunters head for the woods throughout the US in the hopes of bagging their quarry. For example, whitetail deer, elk, and turkey are hunted for sport and food, and animals like beavers and raccoons are trapped for their fur.

Regardless of the hunt, it's crucial to have the proper equipment, such as good clothes and a reliable weapon. But don't forget about the license and hunter training. They're your most essential hunting gear.

The Gear

Practically every state requires you to have a license or permit to hunt or trap. In addition, every state has some kind of hunter education training or course that you must complete before you can get a license.

Now, the laws are very different from state to state, so it's important that you check the rules in the state where you'll be hunting for all of the details. Most states have a lot of information online or you usually can get a copy of the hunting and trapping rules anywhere licenses and permits are sold.

Here are some basic rules you can expect to see, though.

License or Permit

Basically, this gives you permission to hunt or trap.

  • You have to pay for a license, and the amount depends on the state and whether you live in that state ("resident") or live in another state ("non-resident"). For example, if you live in Ohio you can buy an Indiana license and hunt in that state. Non-residents usually pay more for a license than residents. Also, license fees are usually cheaper for hunters under 18 years old and hunters over the age of 65
  • The license is good only for certain period of time. In some states it's good for one year from the date you got it. In other states, it's good only for the "hunting season," which may be anywhere from three to six months
  • In most states, a hunting license doesn't give you permission to trap. You need to buy a separate trapping license
  • You can only hunt or trap animals that are "in season." Not all animals are "in season" at the same time. During certain months, you may be able to hunt whitetail deer, and in other months you may be able to hunt wild turkey, but you might not be able to hunt both animals during the same month
  • Children under 18 years old can get a license in most states, but it requires the consent or permission from a parent or legal guardian, and usually the parents or guardians must be with the children while they're hunting
  • In some states, such as New Jersey, you can't get a license unless you fill-out a form certifying that you're up-to-date on any child support obligation you may have
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