For most of us, hunting is a passion, a hobby and a way to combine our shooting skills with our love of the outdoors. However, most of us have at some point in our lives, expressed the wish that we could do this for a living.
So, is it possible to make hunting a career?
The answer is yes hunting can be a job, but the opportunities might be somewhat limited. Let’s take a look at the different opportunities and how to become a professional hunter.
How to Become a Professional Hunter
- Get licensed. Keep in mind that there might be different licenses for different locations as well as for hunting the animal of your choice.
- Have your hunting skills assessed by your local game warden.
- Refine and improve your hunting skills by attending courses offered by your local conservation department.
- Practice, practice and practice some more. Sharpen your shooting skills by practicing both indoors and outdoors.
- Familiarize yourself with your local and State hunting regulations and firearms laws.
The opportunities to implement hunting as a full-time career are limited. Although there are many careers to follow that is connected to hunting, the shooting of wild animals for a living is quite limited to predator control. Consequently, it is then to be expected that job opportunities in this field will be somewhat limited too.
In order for us to understand why these jobs are so scarce, we should take a look at State Laws on predator control.
In most States, district field agents and county trappers are responsible for implementing the prescribed measures against predators. A century or so ago, control over dense predator populations was aimed at pro-actively exterminating them.
Lately, the district field agents mostly respond to calls to destroy or remove problem animals. In addition to this, President Ford amended President Nixon’s Executive Order in 1975 to allow several States to use sodium cyanide in the M-44 device to poison coyotes. However, the use of this method is controlled and limited to certified Federal district agents and county trappers.
As a district field agent, hunting and shooting predators will not be the only method you use to control predators. Your methods will also include traps, snares, and aerial gunning.
Today the government’s aim has mostly shifted toward controlling livestock predators. It is mostly done to benefit individual farmers and ranchers who cannot control it adequately themselves.
All of this simply means that predators are not hunted down in large numbers, but rather only when they pose a threat to livestock. This is a determining factor in the limitations of job-opportunities for hunters.
Read the JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL LAW [Vol. 13:31] for a full review on Federal regulations regarding predator control.
So, becoming a district field agent might be one of your best options if you wish to make hunting a full-time career.
Become a Hunting Guide – This might be one of the most rewarding full-time careers in hunting. As a hunting guide, you will be involved in scouting and taking leadership on hunting excursions. You have the option to go into business on your own, or alternatively be contracted by an established outfitter.
Your day-to-day tasks as a hunting guide might typically include scouting for wildlife, planning, organizing and conducting trips for hunters, arrange transportation, supplies as well as equipment for the trips, explain the use of the specific gear, prepare meals and prepare harvested game.
It is crucial to understand your local requirements for hunting guides. See the list of State Wildlife and Fishing Agencies at the bottom of this post.
As a hunting guide you will require:
- Above average communication skills;
- Organization skills;
- Teaching skills;
- Good physical fitness;
- First aid skills;
- Outdoor survival skills.
Your next option is more of a part-time than full-time job, being that of a Predator control Technician. A job opportunity such as this usually entails of a temporary seasonal contract with average wages between $12 and $16 an hour.
Of course, there are more opportunities closely connected to hunting but you might not necessarily be out in the woods doing them.
Coyote hunter – every so often job opportunities for coyote hunting as an Environmental Protection Seasonal Resource Assistant (Furbearer and Bear Program) are posted by the relevant State Department of Energy & Environmental Protection. This is typically a seasonal contract and could pay between $10 and $14 per hour.
Wildlife Technician – This is the perfect job if you are a deer enthusiast and want to get hands-on involved in managing wildlife. As a wildlife technician, your duties will typically include wildlife surveys, some predator trapping work as well managing public land deer hunts. The downside is that if you end up in the non-game program, your duties will entail more wildlife surveys, data entry, and analysis.
Wildlife Biologist – As opposed to wildlife technicians who typically do hands-on field work, the wildlife biologist’s work often includes more planning, research, data analysis and report writing. It could also include monitoring the harvests of furbearer species for which hunting and/or trapping are allowed.
Should you be interested in deer management, then be sure to explore the excellent program courses offered at QDMA (Quality Deer Management Association.)
Taxidermist – This could be a rewarding career. You might have to sign up as an apprentice with an existing taxidermist and receive full training from him. It requires in-depth training and hours of practice to become skilled. In order to work as a taxidermist in the US, you will be required to obtain a license and/or federal permit (regulations vary by state).
Outfitter – To become an outfitter, you have to set up a licensed and insured business. Outfitters usually employ hunting guides to lead clients on guided trips. Start your own outfitting business by getting finance to purchase land. You will run and manage the camp for hunters. Since the competition is usually huge, your success will depend on your skills to guide a hunter to a good bull. Word-of-mouth will ensure future customers. Be prepared to work long hours.
Part-time hunting jobs and opportunities:
Hunt to sell animal hides – this is an excellent way to earn an additional income from your hunting trips.
Create a blog – publish articles and hunting tips. You could consider writing blogs for other websites but be prepared the pay is not that great. A passive income can be generated from specific advertising strategies. However, this might require technical skills and understanding of Google advertising campaigns.
Videotape your hunting trips – record your hunting trips and post it on your blogs or begin your own YouTube channel and generate an income from your hunting videos.
Apparel maker – If your hunting skills include a passion or knowledge of clothes and gear and you have an added advantage of creative talents, you might be interested in designing your own brand.
Own a gun store – if you have a passion for guns this might be your dream job. However, you will require start-up capital which would probably make it easier to work in a gun-shop. Your experience out in the field will inevitably add to your success as a salesman. One of the perks of doing this is that you might receive your gear at discounted prices. Unfortunately the pay might not be what you expected.
Directory of State Wildlife and Fishing Agencies as provided by Guidefitter:
- Alabama: Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division
- Alaska: Alaska Department of Fish and Game
- Arizona: Arizona Game and Fish Department
- Arkansas: Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
- California: California Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Colorado: The Office of Outfitters Registration
- Connecticut: Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
- Delaware: Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife
- Florida: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
- Georgia: Georgia Department of Natural Resources- Wildlife Resources Division
- Hawaii: Department of Land and Natural Resources
- Idaho: Outfitters & Guides Licensing Board
- Illinois: Illinois Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
- Indiana: Indiana Division of Fish & Wildlife
- Iowa: Iowa Department of Natural Resources
- Kansas: Kansas Dept. Of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism/Wildlife Division
- Kentucky: Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
- Louisiana: Louisiana Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
- Maine: Maine Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
- Maryland: Maryland Department of Natural Resources-Wildlife and Heritage Service
- Massachusetts: Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
- Michigan: Michigan Department of Natural Resources
- Minnesota: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
- Mississippi: Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, & Parks
- Missouri: Missouri Department of Conservation
- Montana: Montana Board of Outfitters
- Nebraska: Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
- Nevada: Nevada Department of Wildlife
- New Hampshire: New Hampshire Fish and Game Department
- New Jersey: New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife
- New Mexico: New Mexico Game & Fish
- New York: New York State Forest Rangers
- North Carolina: North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
- North Dakota: North Dakota Game and Fish Department
- Ohio: Ohio Department of Natural Resources
- Oklahoma: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
- Oregon: Oregon State Marine Board
- Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Game Commission
- Rhode Island: State of Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management
- South Carolina: South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
- South Dakota: South Dakota Game Fish and Parks
- Tennessee: Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency
- Texas: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
- Utah: Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing
- Vermont: Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department
- Virginia: Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
- Washington: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
- West Virginia: West Virginia Division of Natural Resources
- Wisconsin: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
- Wyoming: Wyoming Board of Outfitters