Now that everyone is mostly under “stay-at-home” orders right now due to COVID-19, what does it mean for the hunting season right now? Are you curious if you can still head out into the woods to bag some game?
It’s a good question and one that isn’t easily answered right now because it depends on the state. Let’s look at the issue of hunting during COVID-19.
You Are Still Allowed To Go Outside
Even with all the regulations in place about social distancing, officials are still allowing everyone to go outside for at least a daily walk or bike ride, if you can. It’s hard enough being inside your house all day because there is only so much television you can watch.
Exercise and getting out of the house for short periods of time is vital for your mental health and overall wellness. And yes — hunting is one of the ways you can do that.
Hunting as a Social Distancing Activity
You would think that hunting would be fine during COVID-19, since most people hunt in small groups of just a few people – if in groups at all. It wouldn’t be that hard to maintain the 6 feet of social distance required during a hunting activity. The problem is that most states consider it a non-essential activity, and if you don’t have hunting allowed right in your area, you are encouraged not to travel to any other states, if you can help it. Many people cancelled their spring hunting trips this year.
Some States That Still Allow Hunting
If you live in one of these states you may still be able to go on a hunt. For example, Florida and Mississippi deem hunting as an acceptable activity that conforms to social distancing guidelines. If you live in the Sunshine state, check with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to see which areas or still open. The Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Park (MDWFP) serves the same purpose.
Maryland has more restrictions in place now about hunting. They allow it only if you are seeking food for your family.
In North and South Carolina, it’s fine to hunt, but check first to make sure certain spots are still open. The same goes for Texas, which makes hunting part of essential activities that also includes fishing.
Some States That Don’t
Virginia specifically went ahead and prohibited hunting during this time. However, gun owners can still visit shooting ranges.
Alaska has banned spring bear hunting for non-residents of the state through May 31. They had considered banning the season altogether, but they were concerned about bear populations getting out of control without their hunting efforts this year.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Opinion on Hunting Now
The NSSF is encouraging people to still actively hunt where they can during this time. They still want people to wash their hands, maintain social distancing while hunting, and share some of the frozen game meat they have with others, who may be having financial and food insufficiency problems as a result of the pandemic.