Can You Shoot a Deer at Night? Is Night Deer Hunting Illegal | US Hunting Laws

Animals that sleep during the day and stay up the whole night are known as nocturnal animals.

Hunting of nocturnal animals is done by a method called Spotlighting or lamping which is done by using flashlights and off-road vehicles to hunt animals as they would stare at the light and not presume it as a threat as they would consider a human being.

For thousands of years, people have been hunting deer for their meat and sport as well. Hunting for sport means people hunting the deer with the largest antler, as a 350-inch antler can be sold for around $400.

The question we are dealing with today is can you hunt deer at night?

The Legality of Night Deer Hunting

Deer hunting is an amazing experience when done right. As exciting and thrilling night hunting sounds to a hunter, it has some rules and regulations.

Every state has its own rules including the type of firearm, caliber, ammo, location, time, and the type of animal you hunt.

Hunting game animals like deer, turkey and moose in many states is legal from sunrise to sunset but illegal at night.

However, it is always in your favor to check your local rules before going hunting. Nighttime hunting is most legalized only for wild, fur-bearing, predators, and other dangerous animals.


Deer Hunting Season

You should be careful to know about the hunting seasons. Hunting seasons increase your chances of hunting successfully and if it were not for hunting seasons, we would not have any animals left to hunt.

Hunting season starts in September and lasts up to December or January varying from state to state. In hunting season, you might be allotted specific hours and weapons to hunt.

Secondly, all deer are not on the table to hunt. The two most commonly hunted deer are white-tailed and Mule deer. Deer without antlers are illegal to hunt, but some states have special permits to hunt them.

You must take into account the length of the antler and the gender of the deer as well while hunting. For example, in some states, it is legal to shoot deer with at least 3 antler points.


Why Is Deer Hunting at Night Illegal?

All these rules and regulations are in place for your protection and the people around you. Night hunting is illegal and for all the valid reasons which we will be explaining below;

Starting with having no light to see your surroundings clearly, you can accidentally shoot someone with you or trip over something and injure yourself. Accidentally injuring a friend poses a threat to you and your hunting license as well.

You can trip and break an arm or worse hit your head on something. There are uncountable bad scenarios that can go down.

During all these bad scenarios if you encounter a wild animal what would you do then? Injuring yourself might affect your ability to run or affect your sight. Chances increase at night of encountering wild animals like grizzly bears.

Safety should be your top priority, so hunting at night is not worth your life.


Consequences of Night Hunting

After knowing all this information if you still choose to hunt at night, you will face repercussions for your actions.

Starting with your hunting license being canceled and moving on to a fine of up to $2000.

For people with a repeated violation, you might end up in prison too.


Nighttime Hunting Rules for Each Federal State

Each state has its own nighttime hunting rules and regulations:


Alabama: Night hunting is completely prohibited in Alabama. It’s against the law to make a predatory call after hours while using any kind of gadget and having a gun or other weapon in your possession. Moreover, any night vision equipment is also banned.


Alaska: Night deer hunting is permitted. However, the use of artificial lighting is restricted.


Arizona: They have very strict guidelines for hunting. Every hunter must first obtain a municipal hunting license. And only coyote hunting is permitted at night.


Arkansas: Any type of wildlife cannot be hunted at night. Except when canines are used to trap bobcats, raccoons, and opossums during a species’ open season.


California: On private hunting areas, only coyote and fox hunting is permitted if the landowner so decides. Hunting is prohibited in some public spaces. While electrical night vision devices using infrared or light-amplifying circuits are illegal, night vision itself is permitted.


Colorado: Night hunting is allowed.


Connecticut: According to Connecticut state law, hunting is permitted every day of the week between one-half hour before sunrise and sundown.


Delaware: It’s against the law to hunt deer and most other animals at night. An hour after sunset to an hour before sunrise is referred to as “night.” A centerfire rifle, a fully automatic weapon, or a shotgun greater than 10 gauge are all prohibited for use when hunting.


Florida: Before you may go hunting, you need a gun and light permission as well as a night permit. Night hunting is permitted only on private properties. Wildlife Management Areas are off-bounds. 

Except for foxes, you are permitted to hunt almost every animal.


Georgia: Alligators, raccoons, opossums, foxes, and bobcats are the only game animals that may be hunted at night in this state.


Hawaii: Hunting is prohibited from 30 minutes after sundown to 30 minutes before sunrise. Additionally, any night vision devices are forbidden.


Idaho: Raccoons and coyotes are the only animals that are prohibited. To make hunting on a private hunting property legal, the owner must give a formal written permission.

Additionally, hunters must obtain a flashlight permit from the Fish and Game office.


Illinois: Only during the hours of half an hour before sunrise and half an hour after sunset, and only on days when there is an open season for taking deer with a shotgun, handgun, rifle, or muzzle-loading rifle, are people with a deer hunting permit allowed to hunt deer.


Indiana: Legal hunting hours for all deer seasons are from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.


Iowa: With a few limitations, nighttime deer hunting is permitted in Iowa. It is necessary to get a permit, which is available from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The permit allows you to hunt deer from dusk until dawn using a rifle, shotgun, or crossbow.


Kansas: Only coyotes and furbearers are allowed to be hunted, but without the use of artificial lights and night vision.


Kentucky: Only coyotes are allowed to be hunted at night. The only accredited firearm for hunting is a shotgun loaded with shells of size T and below.


Louisiana: Law allows nighttime hunting of nuisance animals on private property. The use of night vision equipment and artificial light is allowed.


Maine: Coyote and raccoon night hunting is permitted. Coyote night hunting is permitted with the use of night vision and artificial light.


Maryland: During the designated season, nighttime hunting is permitted for coyotes, foxes, and raccoons; however, there are some limitations. Using night vision equipment and artificial light is allowed for these animals.


Massachusetts: Coyote, opossum, fox, and raccoon night hunting is only permitted for a short period of time just before midnight. However, deer hunting is permitted during shotgun season from 30 minutes after dusk to 30 minutes before dawn. Artificial lights are not acceptable, but night vision is.


Michigan: Hunting at night is permitted. Only portable lights, like flashlights and headlamps, are recognized as legitimate light sources.


Minnesota: Raccoons, foxes, and coyote may be hunted at night with artificial light.


Mississippi: It is legal to hunt foxes, bobcats, beavers, coyotes, nutrias, opossums, raccoons, and beavers at night unless it is spring turkey season. Night vision is also permitted.


Missouri: Hunting at night is permitted. However, you should only use artificial lighting while hunting bullfrogs, raccoons, or other furbearers that have already been cornered by hunting dogs. It is forbidden to use night vision.


Montana: With the landowner’s consent, nighttime hunting is permitted for the following animals: badger, raccoon, red fox, hares, rabbits, ground squirrels, marmots, tree squirrels, porcupines, prairie dogs, coyotes, weasels, striped skunks, and civet cats (spotted skunk).

It is acceptable to use artificial lights and night vision devices.


Nebraska: Coyotes, prairie dogs, and other nongame species can all be hunted at night. When night hunting, artificial lighting is only permitted when on foot.


Nevada: Night hunting, night vision, and artificial light are not allowed in the state of Nevada.


New Hampshire: Night hunting is legal but coyote hunting at night is restricted. Artificial lights are permitted unless they’re attached to a vehicle. Night vision is also okay.


New Jersey: In the state of New Jersey, night hunting of raccoon, opossum, coyote, and fox is permitted throughout the hunting season.


New Mexico: Night hunting is prohibited since hunters are only permitted to hunt from an hour before sunrise until an hour after sundown.


New York: Red and grey fox, coyote, bobcat, raccoon, skunk, mink, weasel, and opossum can all be legally hunted at night. Additionally, night vision and artificial light are also permitted.


North Carolina: If the landowners have given their written consent, hunting coyotes and feral hogs is permitted on private property. Night vision and artificial lighting are also acceptable.


North Dakota: Only on foot are foxes and coyotes permitted to be hunted at night. The hunters are only allowed to utilize natural light and a predator call.


Ohio: Hunting is permitted from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., but the hunters must keep a white light On that can be seen from at least a half-mile away. Any color light can be used by hunters who are hunting a coyote, fox, boar, or racoon.


Oklahoma: All furbearers are fair game to hunt, except coyotes. Night vision equipment and attached artificial lights on vehicles are forbidden.


Oregon: Even though it is entirely legal, only raccoons, bobcats, and opossums may be hunted at night using handheld artificial lights.

Landowners who hunt rabbits, coyotes, wild pigs, and rodents on their own private grounds are the only ones who are permitted to use night vision. Using night vision equipment is not permitted in any other situations.


Pennsylvania: Nighttime hunting is permitted for raccoons, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, striped skunks, opossums, and weasels, with few exceptions of seasons.


Rhode Island: In Rhode Island, only raccoons may be hunted at night. Only the use of a kerosene lamp or flashlight with six or fewer cells is permitted; night vision gear is prohibited.


South Carolina: Raccoons, opossums, foxes, mink, skunk, coyotes, armadillos, and hogs may be hunted at night. The use of night vision and artificial light is allowed.


South Dakota: Furbearer night hunting is permitted in South Dakota. Throughout the year, hunters may pursue Red and Grey Fox, Badger, Raccoon, Skunk, Opossum, Jackrabbit, and Coyotes.

Seasonal limits apply to bobcat, beaver, muskrat, mink, and weasels.


Tennessee: Raccoons, bullfrogs, and opossums can all be hunted at night. Furbearers could only be captured; foxes and rabbits could only be chased, not killed.


Texas: Furbearing and non-game animals may be hunted at night.


Utah: From county to county, night hunting may or may not be permitted. The best way to find out if night hunting is prohibited in your area is to get in touch with the local authorities and ask.


Vermont: Hunting raccoons, skunks, coyotes at night is okay. Night visions and artificial lights are also tolerated.


Virginia: Hunting at night is allowed for opossums, foxes, raccoons, and bobcats, as well as other nuisance species. Artificial lighting is permitted if it is not connected to a vehicle.


Washington: Only during certain seasons are coyotes, raccoons, and bobcats permitted to be hunted at night. Other animals are absolutely forbidden.


West Virginia: During open seasons, hunters may use artificial lighting and night vision gear for hunting coyotes, foxes, raccoons, skunks, and opossums.


Wisconsin: Hunting at night is permitted. When hunting on foot, the use of lighting and night vision gadgets is not restricted.


Wyoming: Hunting at night using night vision equipment and spotlights on a private property is legal with written permission from the owner.



Hunting deer is a common and entertaining sport for all hunters. Unfortunately, hunting deer at night is illegal in most of the states across the US and it is for good reasons as well.

The government does not want you to hurt yourself or someone with you by accident. Although, all hunters can hunt deer in appropriate deer season and legal timings according to their state.

Even after knowing the dangers if you still hunt at night, then you can lose your license and must pay a heavy fine. You should read up on your local rules and regulations before you go hunting to fully enjoy your hunting session. Happy Hunting!

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