8 Weird and Wacky Hunting Laws

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Do You Know of Any Others Like These?

A few years ago, I was setting in deer camp when a buddy looked at me and said, “It’s illegal to trap mice in California without a license.”

I really didn’t know how to respond. I just shook my head, gave a wry smile and told him to lay off the bottle.

While I haven't been able to determine whether my buddy was speaking the truth or if he was speaking in the language of Jack Daniels, there are some odd game laws. And these ones are verified.

Hold the Pee

The latest whitetail hot topic is scent lures and their relationship with the possible spreading of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Scott Darling, a wildlife biologist with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife, shed light on why states are banning deer urine.

“We did that because Vermont is a CWD-free state,” Darling said. “We did not feel confident the [deer urine] dealers could guarantee their urine was CWD-free. CWD prions [are] in urine. This [law] is one thing we can do to prevent it from spreading into Vermont.”

Other states have also banned natural urines. Alaska, Virginia, Arizona and Pennsylvania are just a few more example of states that do not permit the use of real urine.

States are offering an alternative to those who previously used deer urine. Synthetic scents are still legal and offer hunters another way to lure deer with scents.

Color Collected

It’s illegal to shoot an albino deer in the state of Tennessee. Is there science to support letting white deer walk? Not a bit. Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Law Enforcement Coordinator William Morris spoke on the matter.

“It wasn’t something the agency pushed for,” Morris said. “There is no biological reasoning for having it. It doesn’t benefit wildlife at all. Someone came up with the idea. We really have no rhyme or reason for it other than someone proposed it and now we have it.”

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Half-Day Off

I’ve never quite understood the half-day turkey hunting. If anything, I think it limits hunters, but I’m no biologist. So I spoke with someone who speaks about this issue on a regular basis. Joe Jerek, the news services coordinator for the Missouri Department of Conservation, shed some light on the issue.

“We’ve looked at research over time,” Jerek said. “Our season ends at 1 p.m. to give turkeys a break in the afternoon. Spring hunting is more popular than fall hunting. This law gives hens a break for nesting and poult rearing.”

Despite the current status in the state, things might change in the future.

“Our regulations committee is exploring changing that law,” Jerek said.

Fall turkey hunting in Missouri does not restrict hunters to half a day. According to Jerek, in the fall, shooting hours for turkeys are one half hour before sunrise to sunset.

No Flash Photography

I really don’t want to name any names…Montana. But not allowing the use of trail cameras during the season is a bit off center. Hank Worsech, the license bureau chief for the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, provided input on this matter.

“Trail cameras cannot be used during the season,” Worsech said.

That leads me to believe you can use them to scout during the pre-season, but not once opening day arrives. Seems a little odd to me.

“All of these laws are through legislative processes,” he said.

Maybe that’s him discreetly disagreeing with the law. Maybe that’s him being professional. Either way, whether he agrees or not, I know of a lot of Montana hunters that take this law personal.

Not Today

Sunday hunting laws. I realize this is a touchy topic. I understand many are emotionally bonded to this issue. So am I. But that doesn’t mean we have to take away a whole day of hunting each week.

These laws were put in place long ago mainly for religious reasons. I go to church every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. I do all of that and still manage to see the nonsense in restricting hunters to one weekend day of hunting. I commonly squeeze in a quick hunt before church on Sunday mornings. My family and I commonly go for quick, mid-afternoon hunts, too.

Jason Raup, assistant council for the bureau of wildlife protection with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, touched on the issue.

“Sunday hunting remains a prohibited act for deer,” Raup said. “It is allowed for select hunting activities, though.”

No Dogs Allowed

You’d think states would allow hunters the freedom to track wounded deer to the best of their abilities. You’d also think they grant permission to use all resources available to find them. Not so in the grand state of Pennsylvania.

Jason Raup, assistant council for the bureau of wildlife protection with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, touched on the issue.

“It is currently unlawful to track any big game — including deer — except for fall turkeys,” Raup said.

That’s about all I got. But I did received confirmation from Raup that legislation has been proposed to change this law.

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Swim At Own Risk

One of the most ambiguous game laws (country wide) pertains to water. Some states’ regulations read in a way that it’s illegal to shoot a deer standing in a lake, pond or stream, but say nothing about creeks, “cricks” or brooks. Other states say you can’t shoot a deer that is swimming, but can shoot deer that is just standing in water. Even murkier (pun intended) is legislation — or the lack thereof — on flood waters.

Many states — including Georgia — have deer hunting regulations that read along these lines, “It is unlawful to take any deer by any means while the deer is in any lake, stream or pond.” Many states go on to provide even more confusing dialogue on deer and water. I’ve heard some people interpret these laws in a way that means you can’t shoot a deer if it is swimming or immersed to the point that is doesn’t have free escape. That’s pretty cloudy if you ask me.

I asked Lt. Judd Smith, a conservation officer with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, to interpret the law. I started by asking him about the flooded-field issue.

“That’s a good question,” Smith said. “It’s up for interpretation. I don’t know that it’s ever become enough of an issue for us to interpret it. But I don’t think that shooting a deer in a flooded field — say from heavy rain — would be outside the law.”

It's up for interpretation.

Let There (Not) Be Light

Use a lighted nock in select western states and you might find yourself on that Wardens show on the Outdoor Channel. Some places, it isn’t legal to hunt with illuminated nocks.

Lighted nocks don’t offer an advantage over the animal. They make hunters more ethical by helping to retrieve the game they kill. They help to identify shot placement, find arrows and much more. But to say they offer an unfair advantage over game is quite absurd. 

Until recently, Colorado also banned this hunting practice. They changed that law. It is now legal to use lighted nocks in the state of Colorado. Oregon still does not permit the use of electronic devices on bows or arrows.

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Editor's Note: This was originally published September 28, 2017.

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