Start hunting

Upland hunter pointing shotgunIf you want to hunt we can help with information on how to buy a license, how to get your firearms safety certificate, how to find good places to hunt and even helpful species-by-species "how to hunt" information.

Spending time with someone who already hunts is the easiest way to learn to hunt. Most hunters are glad to share their knowledge. If that is not an option check out how-to information here and elsewhere on the internet.

Firearms safety

Firearm safety certificateHunting is far safer than many perceive. That's due to the fact that in most instances if you were born after Dec. 31, 1979, you must obtain a firearms safety certificate to purchase a license to hunt with a firearm. There are exceptions to this requirement, and most common ones are listed under the youth firearms license requirements section of the hunting regulations booklet.

If you who want to try hunting but do not have a firearms safety certificate can purchase an apprentice hunter validation. This is a short-term exclusion to the requirement for completing hunter firearms safety training that be purchased where hunting licenses are sold. The validation may be purchased in two license years in a lifetime. You must also obtain all applicable licenses and stamps.

Gear & equipment

If you already spend time camping, hiking or walking outside, you probably already have gear and equipment that can be used for your first hunting trip.

Hunting gearWhat you wear is important and making sure you are protected from the elements and comfortable is more important than a camouflage pattern. Having good footwear that allows you to spend a lot of time walking or sitting, base layers that wick moisture and insulate while wet and multiple layers that you can use to adjust to Minnesota's shifting weather will keep your mind off of the elements and on the hunt.

A good hat for the sun or cold, in addition to a water-proof outer layer, goes a long way towards keeping you comfortable.

Earth-toned, solid colors such as greens, browns and tans or greys are great alternatives to camo patterns if you don’t have any. Avoid bright colors or loud, swishy fabrics and take extra care to avoid wearing the signal colors of the animals you're pursuing such as white at any time of year or reds and blues in the spring turkey woods.

Try specialized items like firearms or archery equipment before you invest money into them so that you can learn what fits you and your needs. Firearms and bows may need some adjustments to fit the physical dimensions of the person using them.

New hunters often can experiment with gear or equipment from friends, mentors, the DNR's Adult Learn to Hunt classes or at outfitter stores to see what works and what doesn't. You can frequently find last year's models for dramatic discounts online or in person at conservation or shooting clubs.

Frequently, the items that tend to hold to the adage "you get what you pay for" are what hunters call the 4 Bs: boots (footwear), binoculars (or other optics), base-layers (no cotton!) and bullets (or other ammo).

As you get more experienced with what you like and what works for you, you'll learn where you can find deals and where you need to pay a premium for your gear. Fortunately, gear and equipment used for one type of hunting can frequently be repurposed for other hunting or camping activities so you can really get a lot of use out of these items.

Buy a license

Sample of a Minnesota hunting licenseBuying a hunting license is easy. You can do it statewide at more than 1,500 retail outlets (sports stores, certain convenience stores, bait shops, etc.), by calling 888-665-4236 or online.

Do know that you'll need to provide a form of identification (most commonly a driver's license) and your Social Security number.

Make sure you purchase the license you need. You can review license types, costs, stamp requirements and more within the license requirements section of the hunting regulations booklet.

Many youth licenses are free or at a fraction of the cost of adult licenses. Also, certain licenses are available in a 72-hour option. Check out our full list of hunting licenses.

Species you want to hunt

Minnesota offers some of the best and most diverse hunting in the nation. A state with boreal forest, prairie, shallow waterfowl hunting lakes and more, Minnesota is known far and wide as one of America's premier ruffed grouse hunting destinations. Check out how-to guides for many of the state's most popular game species and our outdoor skills webinars on hunting.

Where to hunt

Minnesota is a hunting paradise thanks to millions of acres of public hunting land. Lands open to hunting include national, state and county forests, state Wildlife Management Areas, certain Scientific and Natural Areas and certain state parks and state recreation areas. Check out our list of hunting locations.

Learn to hunt opportunities

Minnesota has fantastic opportunities to connect to its tremendous land and water resources, including more than 12 million acres of state, federal and county land that the DNR manages on behalf of Minnesota's citizens.

For some, learning to hunt can be as simple as asking a friend or family member to take them out the next time they go into the field. For others, a structured program is an appealing learning process and the DNR offers multiple opportunities to teach new hunters how to get out there and harvest their own wild game.

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