With many hunting seasons kicking off across the country, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) recently released a list of the most common violations that their conservation officers write up hunters and anglers for each season. Though the DWR’s round-up is based on outdoorsmen and women in Utah, it’s safe to say that these types of violations are also common in other parts of the country as well. Above all, the list highlights the importance of knowing—and following—your local regulations.

  1. Licensing: According to DWR Captain Wyatt Bubak “it’s shocking how many people go hunting without even opening their envelope to see what permit they drew. They often don’t check their permit until after they’ve harvested an animal, and then finally discover that they hunted in the wrong unit or season, or sometimes for the wrong species.” The DWR recommends always doublechecking licenses and permits to make sure you’re compliant. One important note involves private land hunting: You need to know whether or not you’re required to get written permission to hunt on private property in your area and secure it in advance if it is required.
  2. Catch and Release: Not abiding by bag limits, size restrictions, or practicing catch and release when it’s required for a specific body of water are all common violations. According to Bubak: “There are hunting unit boundaries and fish limits for a reason. These things help us manage various wildlife species according to specific plans and to maintain healthy populations for each area or waterbody. If we don’t enforce the boundary or limits, our management plans don’t work as well.”
  3. Identification: Hunters shooting the wrong animal, often by mistake, is another common infraction. “Never take that shot if you aren’t absolutely sure and confident of your target, and what is beyond your target,” Bubak says.
  4. Public Land Shot, Private Land Harvest: Common disputes occur when a hunter shoots an animal on public land, and it runs onto private land. “If you choose to hunt so close to the boundary that the animal may jump the fence or cross that boundary line, then you need to prepare in advance for that possibility,” Bubak says. “You can’t just cross onto private property and retrieve the deer. You need to immediately contact the landowner and request permission to recover the animal or contact DWR law enforcement. Otherwise, you are trespassing, which is illegal and can lead to conflicts with the landowner.”

Everyone makes mistakes. If a hunter or angler makes one that puts them in violation of state regulations, Bubak notes that it’s important to fess up right away. “When someone self-reports, that reduces the likelihood that your license will be suspended,” he says. “We understand that people get scared or embarrassed, but it shows a lot of goodwill and says a lot about you if you immediately take responsibility for your actions. I honestly wish that everyone would just comply with the law so that we didn’t have to do suspensions. That is our goal. But unfortunately, people do break the law, and we believe that a license suspension is the best deterrent we have for people who intentionally commit wildlife crimes.”