As summer draws to a close, thousands of Albertans get more and more excited about the start of a different season – hunting season. For many people, hunting is a time-honoured tradition passed down through generations – but others are new to the sport, and might be intimidated by a seemingly complex set of rules and regulations. If you’re in this boat, don’t be daunted – just follow these steps and tips.
Getting ready – follow these simple steps to make sure you’re prepared for the hunt you want to go on:
- Get educated about safe and sustainable hunting practices. Completion of a hunter education course is a provincial requirement for all first-time hunters in Alberta; courses are available through the Alberta Hunter Education Instructor Association (AHEIA), both online and in a classroom setting. You can contact your closest AHEIA office by email or by calling 1-866-852-4342.
- Register for your Wildlife Identification Number (WIN). This number is needed to apply for hunting and sportfishing licences in Alberta. It is valid for five years and costs $8; you can apply for a WIN at any licensed vendor or online right here. After you apply, you’ll receive a plastic card with your WIN number within four weeks. Something to remember: beginning in 2014, all first-time WIN applicants will need to include the number confirming they have completed and passed the AHEIA education course.
- Familiarize yourself with the regulations for the area where you plan to fish or hunt, as well as your eligibility to hold an Alberta hunting licence – some licences are not available to non-residents or non-Canadians.
- Register for hunting draws – usually at the beginning of June. Alberta’s draw system is designed to give all hunters an equal opportunity to hunt each species while preventing over-hunting. If you win a draw for a certain species, you will then purchase your licence for that species.
- Buy your licence. Licences in Alberta are species-specific and cost differs according to what kind of animal you are hunting and whether you are from Alberta, elsewhere in Canada, or somewhere international – here is the full list of prices. You can buy your licence from a vendor or online.
Heading out – tips for a safe and sustainable hunt:
- Know how to minimize danger from predators and react to attacks, particularly when heading into bear country.
- Bring appropriate safety equipment, including bear spray and a first aid kid.
- Prepare for all weather possibilities.
- Check closure and advisory information for your area and road conditions for the trip there.
- Provide someone with a copy of your itinerary and an estimated time for your return, especially when heading to a remote location.
- Check the regulations for the area where you’re planning to hunt. Make sure you have appropriate permissions to hunt on all lease land (i.e. agricultural lease land).
- Be aware of your surroundings and know the boundaries of your Wildlife Management Unit (WMU).
- Know your responsibilities when it comes to preventing the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.
- Be sure before you shoot. You must be 100% sure to only shoot animals that your licence allows for. Ignorance is not an excuse if you make a mistake.
- Ensure that you have the capacity to pack the animal out of the bush. Any wastage of the animal is strictly prohibited and may result in fines of up to $0 – $50,000.
We’ll be back next week to talk about some common questions we receive from hunters – starting with the requirements for hunting on leased land. For more information about hunting in the meantime, visit the My Wild Alberta website – or follow on Facebook for instant updates.