How Do Game Conservation Laws Affect Hunters?

Hunting was once necessary for survival. Today, it is considered more of a sport or hobby. Many inherently “man-made” issues negatively impact the animal and wildlife of the world. One such thing is hunting.

Many species are extinct as a direct consequence of unregulated hunting. This is why game conservation laws exist. But how do game conservation laws affect hunters?

Game conservation laws affect hunters by stating when, where, and what they can hunt and how much is taken home. Hunting methods and tools/weapons permitted for use are laid out. Hunters must use tags and check-in stations. These laws will see hunters spending money on licensing and fees which can be reinvested in the environment. 

These laws are not just to prevent extinction but also to keep the delicate balance of the ecosystem where these animals reside.

And don’t think that extinction is exclusive to the larger, rarer, more “exotic” animals out there. If overhunting were to be overlooked, animals such as geese, deer, and even some fish could face extinction.

how do game conservation laws affect hunters

When Can Hunters Hunt According To Game Conservation Law?

Hunting season is not just an allocated time of the year when all hunters may go out and hunt the game of their choice.

Seasons during which hunters can legally hunt, or Open Season, depend on two factors: 1.) Breeding Season and 2.) Mating season

For population reasons, these seasons are completely restricted, and hunters are not allowed to hunt legally.

Not every animal keeps to the same breeding and hunting season, so that it would depend entirely on the hunter’s choice of game.

no hunting sign

Apart from breeding and hunting season, the rest of the year is open for hunting. 

The autumn months seem to be the designated “rifle season,” as most animals are well past mating and breeding.

Most mating and breeding are thought to occur during the springtime, and while this is true, specific species may not adhere to these months.

Other Ways In Which Game Conservation Laws Affect Hunters

The world is changing, and how we do many things has changed. Hunting is one of these things.

While it may seem like a carefree primal thing to do, there is, in fact, much admin and sometimes red tape.

One cannot simply grab their rifle and head out into the wilderness.

Bag Limits

Bag limits refer to the number of species one hunter may kill and keep. This number can be specific or may vary by the weight and size of the animal.

The bag limits may also restrict hunters from killing an animal on the smaller side and not fully matured.

These limits are strictly enforced during hunting season and apply to hunters and fishermen to protect the population and prevent overhunting. 

Bag limits will vary by state and by species. Hunters that rely on their kills as part of their livelihood will be the most affected by these limitations.

Similarly, people in poorer areas who depend on their kills for sustenance will be affected. However, bag limits are harder to enforce in these areas.

Equal Opportunity

The bag limits further allow for equal opportunity for hunters by ensuring enough animals and fish to be harvested without anyone taking more than their fair share of the resources.

Weapons And Tools Used For Hunting

Hunters will be limited regarding the methods and weapons they can legally use to hunt animals.

This is to ensure that no unnecessary cruelty is inflicted upon the animal that is being hunted.

There is also the hunter’s “Ethical Code.” This is the code that hunters adhere to, to preserve a hunter’s image.

They respect the laws and regulations, the environment, the animal, fellow hunters, and nonhunters. 

Weapons And Tools That Are Not Permitted For Hunting

To further ensure the safety of animals, other hunters, and plant life, certain methods and weaponry are forbidden by law from being used during hunting season.

Things such as explosives and poisons are not allowed.

Furthermore, restrictions on modern firearms, gun calibers, ammunition, silencers, and automatic weapons are also in place.

When it comes to weapons such as bows, the hunter must have the correct archery licensing to use them legally.

Certain times of the year will see further restrictions on the use of crossbows on deer and the use of lights to illuminate areas during the darker hours.

Check-In Stations

Check-in stations were implemented to track and collect data on whatever was harvested by the hunter.

They also ensure that hunters have the correct tags and licenses and are within the bag limits.

These stations are privately owned and operated, with regulations specific to the region in which they are located.

Tag Requirements

Tagging is a way of purchasing your legal right to hunt a specific animal.

Tags need to be carried by hunters while on their excursions to show which species they are permitted to hunt. And how much of that species they may take.

These tags are not available in excess due to the imbalance of hunter to animal. Hunters that had their eye on a specific game may not always be granted the required tagging.

Tags can get extremely specific and complicated. Factors such as zoning, age, sex of the animal, and weapons are all considered. 

How “Fair Chase” Rules Have Changed The Way People Hunt

In 1887 The Boone And Crockett club was founded by Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell and, to this day, remains a strong advocate for ethical hunting and fair chase.

Fair chase refers to limiting how a hunter hunts and kills an animal.

It is about ensuring a balance in the skill of the hunter and the animal so that no unfair advantages are utilized.

hunter with dog

Examples of unethical hunting methods include:

  • The use of motorized vehicles
  • The use of airplanes or helicopters
  • Shooting within an enclosure

People who “hunt” by these methods are not considered hunters but are classified as poachers.

When hunting birds, there are rules about when a hunter may shoot the bird.

If the bird is on the ground, in a tree, or on the water, firing at the bird is illegal and unethical.

This will cause a disturbance to the surrounding wildlife and is not within the “fair chase” code of conduct.

Species That Cannot Be Hunted In Keeping With Game Conservation

Each state has its wildlife and ecosystem and, therefore, its own protected and endangered species list.

The animals on these lists are protected by law, and anyone found hunting or killing them will face criminal charges.

Even certain species that are allowed to be hunted may be restricted to hunters with the legal documentation and licenses to hunt the said animal.

Animals that may be hunted legally differ from state to state depending on the protected and endangered species specific to that area.

FindLaw.com has a comprehensive list of animals that may be hunted legally and the laws around hunting specifically for each state.

How Does Game Conservation Affect Hunting Areas?

Most Public lands in America permit hunting, but the game which may be hunted is stipulated within each region.

Licenses will also be required to hunt here. Even some privately owned land allows for hunting but also has set rules. Additional fees may apply.

And some wildlife areas require hunting education classes to be taken before a person is granted access to hunt on the land.

Funding And Fees

With all the rules and regulations in place, hunters will be spending money on maintaining the correct licensing, tags, and permits to hunt legally.

These fees contribute toward game and wildlife conservation.

Without these conservations, hunters would not have anything left to hunt. How much is spent depends on the region and type of hunting done.

Safety Of Hunters

These laws are not just here to protect the animals, but the hunters too.

The laws relating to firearms, dress codes, hunting grounds, and age limits strive to create an ethical, enjoyable, and safe environment for hunters.

hunter with a high visibility hunting vest

Final Thoughts on Game Conservation Laws

Essentially hunting is a sport and should be undertaken with sportsmanlike conduct.

While some hunters and enthusiasts may find the game conservation laws to hinder their experience, the laws are in place for a real purpose.

The past’s unmonitored and unregulated hunting practices have already seen many species of wildlife damaged, polluted, and extinct.

Without such laws, the eradication of hunting in its entirety is a potential reality that we could face in the future.