The following interactive map is Part 1 of a new Center for Wildlife Ethics initiative to raise public awareness about the legal landscape surrounding the consumptive recreation of wild animals in the U.S. Part 1 highlights the state-by-state age requirements for unsupervised youth hunting, i.e., the age at which a child may use weapons to kill animals without an accompanying parent or other adult.
With the population of hunters steadily declining and with fewer children filling in the gaps created as hunters “age-out” of hunting (or experience a change of attitude about killing for fun), wildlife agencies are desperately working to recruit impressionable youngsters who would otherwise never have an opportunity to kill for recreation, or develop an interest in doing so.
As with cigarette smoking, a child who is not sold on the idea of hunting prior to early adulthood will rarely start at a later age.
Wildlife managers and their marketing experts are desperate to preserve the so-called "hunting tradition" and the funding scheme (by which an excise tax on guns, ammunition, and other outdoor equipment is allocated solely to fund hunter recruitment and retention programs). Acknowledging the importance of keeping the number of licensed hunters up, wildlife agencies believe it is critical to cultivate hunting in children--before the child is capable of reflecting on the moral issues raised by killing animals.
Acclimating young children to this form of violence at an early age is seen as critical in the effort to keep the numbers of hunters as high as possible. As this map reflects, wildlife agencies have successfully lobbied state legislatures to chisel away at perceived regulatory obstacles in an attempt to entice more youngsters to engage in so-called “sport” hunting.
State-by-state Minimum age requirements for unsupervised hunting
This interactive map is accurate as of February 2016. Regulations affecting hunting age requirements are modified often and several proposed state-level changes are being considered as of this publication. Moreover, the online location of relevant agency publications changes frequently, so the links provided in this map may become outdated over time. If you would like to report an error, regulatory change, or new resource to CWE, please use the contact form.