Hunting can be done as a means of survival (food) or for sport. Hunting is most commonly done by humans to get meat, for recreation, to remove predators that can harm humans or domestic animals, to remove pests that destroy crops, or for trade. There are several types of hunting: camouflage hunting, dog handling, bird hunting, big game hunting, small game hunting, wild boar hunting, bait hunting, active hunting, recreational hunting, and safari.
The best states for hunting have two main characteristics: a percentage of the state’s population hunts and a significant amount of public land is open to those hunters. Other factors considered for the best hunting state are their hunting traditions, variety and amount of game, and regulations. In most cases, if you want to hunt legally in the United States, you must obtain a hunting license from the state in which you are hunting and comply with all of that state’s fish and wildlife department requirements and regulations. The age at which a hunting license can be purchased caries from state to state. You must take a hunter safety education course and pass the test to get your hunting license. Courses and requirements vary by state.
Some states honor other states’ hunting licenses. For example, California’s Hunter Education Certificate is accepted by all U.S. states, provinces, and countries that have mandatory hunter education requirements. California will also accept Hunter Education certifications that are issued by other jurisdictions that meet the official IHEA-USA requirements. In some states, hunting draws are used. Hunting draws are special licenses that allow successful applicants to hunt a specific type of game. Sometimes only residents of the state are permitted to apply for the draws.
Alaska is one of the best states for both fishing and hunting. Alaska has miles and miles of nearly untouched nature and breathtaking glaciers, tundras, mountains, and forests. Over 90% of the state is publicly owned, allowing for plenty of land open for hunting. About 15% of all Alaska residents have hunting licenses. The state is home to big game such as grizzly bears, brown bears, moose, elk, and mountain goats. Alaska hunting licenses can be found on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website.
Another beautiful state and popular for hunting is Montana. Hunting in Montana has cultivated local economies that depend on the sport. About 20% of Montana’s population hunts, but with 30 million acres of public land available, there’s plenty of space for hunting. Montana offers opportunities to hunt moose, bison, black bears, deer, elk, and pronghorn antelope. Montana hunting and trapping licenses can be found on the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks website.
Hunting in Idaho is very popular, with about 15-17% of the population participating in the sport. While this is a significant portion of the population, 60% of the state is public land. Idaho’s diverse habitat types are home to many species, including turkeys, elk, mountain lions, black bears, and wolves. There are also controlled hunts for moose, antelope, and bighorn sheep. Hunting licenses for both Idaho residents and non-residents can be found on the Idaho Department of Fish and Game website.
4. South Dakota
Approximately 25% of South Dakota residents are hunters. The state is known for its pheasant and upland bird hunting, but also has lottery opportunities for mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and buffalo. To obtain a South Dakota hunting license, visit the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks website.
5. North Dakota
North Dakota’s 3 million acres of public land is open to hunters. Anywhere from 15-18% of the state’s total population participates in hunting every year, enjoying game such as pheasant, antelope, and mallards, as well as lottery opportunities for elk, moose, and bighorn sheep. The state is also known for its whitetails and mule deer pursuits.
North Dakota’s hunting licenses can be obtained from the North Dakota Game and Fish website.
Wisconsin is best known for its whitetail deer hunting but is also one of the best turkey hunting states. Within Wisconsin’s 7 million acres of public land are 15,000 lakes, so hunters should be prepared with hip waders, especially if they’re looking for waterfowl. About 700,000 Wisconsin residents are licensed hunters. You can obtain a Wisconsin hunting license on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website.
Minnesota is a great state for both hunting and fishing. About 560,000 Minnesota residents are licensed hunters. About 16% of Minnesota’s land, 8.2 million acres, is public land. Hunting is a longtime tradition in Minnesota, from duck to deer, bear, and turkey. Swamp hunting is common in Minnesota, as the state is home to 13,000 natural lakes. Minnesota hunting licenses can be found on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website.
Wyoming, the country’s least populated state, has plenty of room and big game opportunities for hunters. About one-quarter of Wyoming’s population hunts the 31.4 million acres of public land - about half of the state’s entire land area. Wyoming has hunting opportunities for elk, antelope, mountain goat, deer, moose, bison, and bighorn sheep. While a great state for hunting, Wyoming does have a complicated draw system and requires non-resident hunters to hire a guide or have a resident companion if they choose to hunt in federal wilderness areas. Information about obtaining a Wyoming hunting license can be found on the [Wyoming Game and Fish Department website)[https://wgfd.wyo.gov/hunting].
The Mountain State has a longtime tradition of hunting for many. About 10-12% of West Virginia’s population are hunting license holders. Whitetail deer is the state’s most population game animal, but there are also opportunities for black bear, turkey, and ruffed grouse. West Virginia has about 1.5 million acres of land open to public hunting. West Virginia hunting licenses can be found on the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources licensing and game check system.
Pennsylvania is the tenth-most hunter-friendly state in the U.S. 4.2 million acres, or about 14.5% of the state is public ground. Plus, an additional 2 million acres is private ground open to hunting through cooperative agreements. Pennsylvania ranks first in the country for both hunter and bowhunter density per square mile. Popular game in Pennsylvania includes black bear, elk, turkey, and waterfowl. To obtain a Pennsylvania hunting license, visit the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s website. ])