What is the Legal Age to Hunt With a Rifle? 

Several states require hunters under age 18 to take a hunter education course before obtaining a firearms license. In addition to the course, hunters 12 to 15 must attend a training course specific to the type of license they wish to obtain. In some states, a youth hunting license can be obtained with a legal guardian’s signature. In other states, a youth can hunt without a license. Regardless of the state, hunters under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a licensed adult. 

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The age of 12 is the minimum age to hunt big games in many states. However, several states have no minimum age for hunting with a rifle. Those states include Alaska, Louisiana, Missouri, and Tennessee. There are also seven states that allow kids to hunt with a rifle as early as 10 years old. In addition to the standard hunting license, these kids must also have a deer tag. 

Another program that some states offer is the Hunting Mentorship Program. Designed to promote youth hunting, the program allows teenagers to hunt small games with a firearm, provided that they are accompanied by an adult hunter who has been trained in hunter safety. The mentor must be at least 18 years old, possess a valid hunting license, and have at least one year of big-game hunting experience. 

Several states, including New York, Connecticut, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Wyoming, allow kids to hunt without a license. The laws for hunting with a rifle are different based on age. In Alaska, kids must be at least 14 years old to hunt on state-owned land. They can also hunt with a firearm on private land if they have a signed consent form from the landowner. However, if they hunt on private land, they are not allowed to use rifles of any caliber. 

Hunters born after January 1, 1972, must also take a hunter education course before they can obtain a firearms license. They must also show proof of having taken an approved hunter safety course. The minimum age to hunt with a rifle in New York is 14 years old. Youths can also hunt bears or deer with a firearm under the Junior Hunter Mentoring program. They must be accompanied by an adult who has taken a hunter education course and has an approved hunter safety course. 

The United States Sportsmen’s Alliance, which is a member of Families Afield, is also strongly opposed to any new legislation that raises the minimum age for hunting. It also notes that 28 states have lowered the minimum age for hunting since 2004, including Arkansas, Iowa, and Ohio. The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance says that a new minimum age for hunting would only lead to more accidents. In fact, young people have historically accounted for about a third of all hunting accidents. 

In the wake of the tragedy in Alaska, state lawmakers have debated whether to raise the minimum age for hunting. While some lawmakers want the minimum age to be 14 years old, many hunters support the lowered age. In fact, the New York State budget deal includes a provision to lower the minimum age to hunt, from 15 to 12. However, Governor Cuomo has not signed the budget deal into law. He is scheduled to sign it into law before November 1. The New York State Assembly and Senate have agreed to the budget deal, which is now ready for the governor to sign.