Is it Legal to Hunt at Night?
A Comprehensive Guide
Most deer hunters will ask you the same question: is it legal to hunt at night? While some will say yes, a majority will bluntly tell you no. It’s important to understand that each state has its set of laws that guide hunting at night. Except you get a permit from the state to hunt on your property at night with permitted types of equipment like trapping devices, there’s nothing you can do to get rid of the occasional night visits of deer and other animals on your farm. Keep reading to find out if it’s truly legal to hunt at night.
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To legally and more appropriately hunt at night, you need to secure a legal premise from your state of residence. These hunting terms may and may not differ depending on factors like the population of that animal species in your locality and so on. Securing a legal permit from the state doesn’t just guarantee that you’ll still be privileged to take down deer at night. You still need to inform your local game warden to know when you’ll be hunting. With this said, we can deduce that it is outright illegal to hunt at night as there are already laid down laws that forbid hunters from carrying out hunting activities at set times of the night. This guide will be focusing on night hunting legalities.
What Animals Are Hunters Allowed to Hunt at Night?
This section of our guide will focus on night hunting laws for some states in America as well as animals that are allowed to be hunted at night for each state. This list will only cover a summary of each state law, but you can refer to each state regulation for further information. Let’s have a look at a few, shall we?
In Alaska, night hunting with the aid of night vision is prohibited and it is considered unlawful to possess such equipment as a hunter. Night vision equipment includes infrared light or tools used in connection with any electronic viewing device with similar light. Scopes and binoculars that are electronically powered are also not allowed when night hunting in Alaska.
On the contrary, you can hunt at night in Alaska using artificial light in place of night vision and spotlights, however; this use comes with certain restrictions. Using an artificial light would mean that you’re not hunting during the opening of the deer season or you have to turn off your vehicle engine when using its headlights. You can only hunt at night in Alaska without the aid of night vision tools, and artificial lights are permitted with restrictions.
Similar to the law in Alaska, you can as well hunt at night in Alabama if you are going after alligators, pig frog, and bullfrog. There is however a limit to the quota of these animals that are permitted to be harvested. Hunting alligator at night is illegal in Alabama as hunters carry out activities without registering online within the set period. Persons must be lifetime or resident license holders to qualify for registration. Until then can night hunting be permitted in this state.
Use of night vision is prohibited and will be charged as unlawful when deployed to hunt animals at night. Talking about the use of artificial light in this part of the united states, you are permitted to hunt animals like fox during the late hours of the night making use of your light (you can have dogs also). Night hunting is allowed in Alabama so long as you are seeking to harvest alligators, pig frogs, and bullfrogs.
As far as California is concerned, it is illegal to be in possession of or to be caught using night vision enhancers or similar equipment to hunt birds, reptiles, mammals, and amphibians. As spoken of earlier, night vision equipment includes infrared light with electronic viewing devices. Hunting with flashlights is allowed in California. The use of any size of artificial light will prove useful in taking the full and accurate bearing of mammals or non-game animals. If you’re in California and you’ll be hunting in the night, you should pay attention to the stated hunting laws. You may hunt with artificial lights like your vehicle headlights, but you cannot hunt for game during the night with the aid of a powerful spotlight or night vision.
As opposed to other state laws on night hunting, you can hunt for anything in this state. Hunters are only allowed to carry out their activity when they carry with them their hunter education card. Hunters can harvest either big or small-game hunting with the help of night vision or artificial light. Animals allowed to be hunted on private lands at night are raccoons, beavers, coyotes, foxes e.t.c, making use of artificial light to aid you. The good thing about night hunting in Colorado is that artificial lights are also allowed on public roads only with the permit obtained from your local wildlife district. Animals that are allowed to be hunted at night in Colorado include; coyotes, raccoons, striped skunks, bobcats, foxes, and beavers.
There’s no restriction on state-owned lands concerning hunting hours in Connecticut as night hunting is allowed. However, when hunting at night, handguns and rifles that use ammunition larger than .22 rimfire caliber or shotgun shells that are larger than 2 shots are not allowed. Night harvest of foxes and coyotes is prohibited in this state. But you can hunt for other animals using night vision and artificial light. Connecticut allows hunters to harvest animals (except for coyotes and foxes) at night with restrictions to the type of caliber they use. It is illegal to take down opossums or raccoons using the light from your vehicle.
To begin night hunting in Washington, hunters are required to possess a small game license to hunt animals like; bobcats, crows, coyotes, raccoons, and so on. It is unlawful to hunt at night during October and November in vicinities that are open to firearm deer hunting. The use of night vision is prohibited in Washington. Night vision equipment includes light amplification devices, electronically powered light, and other similar gadgets used to foster better night vision.
Light aid may be deployed to hunt coyotes, except it is illegal to hunt coyotes at night within the months of October and November. Hunting big game using artificial light is also prohibited. Night harvest of furbearers is permitted, except that it comes with certain restrictions. The use of night vision and artificial light is only allowed when hunting coyotes at night, except during October and November.
Virginia allows room for night hunting of foxes, bobcats, opossums, and raccoons only during authorized seasons of the year. The use of night vision scopes or similar devices to enhance night vision may be used when hunting during the night. Virginia also supports the use of artificial light, as long as it is not attached or connected to a vehicle. Deer hunting at night is prohibited in Virginia but you can hunt for animals like foxes, bobcats, raccoons e.t.c. Night vision enhancers and artificial light may be used, provided it is not attached to a vehicle.
Is it Legal to Shoot A Deer at Night?
Stalking a deer at night without legal backing is not accepted anywhere. This is because they can see in very low light but they need some form of light from artificial sources like the glow of the street light and the moon. One hunter may want to know why it’s impossible to shoot a deer once it’s dark and another person may be interested in knowing if the dark is the best time of the day to land a good shot on a deer. During the deer hunting season, hunters are allowed to harvest deer at night but with restrictions to the weapon they use.
Having obtained a permit from the state and informing the game warden when you’ll be hunting, it can be said to be legal shooting deer at night. This comes with a limit to the number of deer you can shoot and a restriction on the number of hunting hours to carry out your activities. Outside of the deer hunting season, shooting a deer at night can land you into trouble. It is advisable to stay clear of the deer zone when you’re without a permit both in and out of season. Following the ban on shooting deer at night by some states, it is known that deer are highly sensitive and easily stressed creatures.
Is it Legal to Hunt Deer at Night With A Spotlight?
Some hunters believe that there’s no legal prohibition against spotlighting deer at night but rather against shooting deer at night with the help of a spotlight. There are certain things you need to be careful of. Your being able to meet the conditions of not shooting deer at night with the aid of a spotlight may protect you from paying a fine, but it may not be sufficient in preventing you from being charged by a game warden.
In places like Missouri, you can get arrested by a game warden when you get pulled over with a gun and a spotlight or any powerful flashlight in your car. There was a time when you could use the spotlight to look for deer at night, which is legal as long as you don’t have a lethal weapon as an accompaniment. Now, it is illegal. There may be some state agencies that permit harvesting deer with the aid of a spotlight, but it is frowned at by hunters.
This guide has no doubt shed some light on your question on the legalities of night hunting in relation to some states in America. It is important to note that night hunting laws differ by location, and have different emphasis across countries. In Pennsylvania, hunters are allowed to spotlight deer during the close of the deer hunting season as long as they are not with any weapon. Night hunting is not permitted in several parts of the country due to the fact that some poachers parade as hunters, harvesting deer and other animals using aided pieces of equipment like spotlight and night vision.
Imagine having a large beam of light pointing straight into your eyes, with a rifle right behind it. That sounds less like hunting to me. For the most part in the United States, night hunting is only permitted following the law that guides the state. As a hunter seeking to get some harvest from the night time, you should spend quality time studying night hunting regulations that apply to the state you live in. This will save you from unforeseen circumstances, and possibly a huge fine. Whether you’re in for a small or big game harvest, ensure that you’re armed with all the necessary information and backing that is required to make a legal night hunt.