First time hunting in Alberta? Here’s what you need to do before applying for a licence.

This blog series talks about safe & sustainable hunting in Alberta. Check out a list of all the topics in the series here.

Last week, we looked at the Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) system in Alberta. According to its wildlife management goals, each WMU has a different number of special licences available for different species of game. The draw system, which we’ll talk about in the next post, helps allocate these licences.

Photo of a hunter on agricultural public land

Taking the Hunter’s Education course and getting your WIN card will set you up for safe and responsible hunting.

But before you can apply for draws, or for general licences (which are unlimited and not specific to any WMU) you have to be eligible to hold a recreational hunting licence in Alberta. This requires two things:

  1. That you have held a hunting licence, passed a hunter competency exam, and/or completed a hunter education course, either in Alberta or elsewhere.
  2. A special ID number, called a Wildlife Identification Number (WIN)

If you are a first time hunter in Alberta here’s how you get those things:

  1. Take the Alberta Conservation and Hunter Education course

All first-time hunters must complete a course on conservation and hunter education in Alberta. You are a first-time hunter if:

  • You have not previously held a hunting licence (in Alberta or elsewhere) AND
  • You have not passed a hunter competency test (in Alberta or elsewhere) AND
  • You have not successfully completed a hunter education course (in Alberta or elsewhere)

You can take the course online, or at brick-and-mortar locations throughout Alberta. The Alberta Hunter Education Instructor Association can help you find the course that’s right for you – they also have practice exams and other tools available. When you pass the course’s final exam with at least 80%, you will receive a Hunter Education Card.

If you have completed an education course, passed a competency exam, or held a hunting licence in a jurisdiction other than Alberta, you do not need to complete the course as long as you can show proof of this.

If you are not an Alberta resident, you don’t need to complete the course in order to hunt in Alberta, but you must be accompanied by a licensed Guide or Hunter Host.

  1. Get your WIN card

A WIN card is a Wildlife Identification Number card. Your WIN is a unique number that helps us keep track of all of your hunting and fishing licence data. Your card functions like a credit card when you apply for licences, confirming your eligibility right away without lots of extra paperwork.

Illustration of an Alberta WIN card.

Your permanent WIN card will look like this.

A WIN number is needed to buy all hunting and fishing licences in Alberta – so you’ll need one even if you’re coming from outside the province or you’re under the age of 18. You can apply for your WIN card online at or visit a private licence issuer – you pay a small fee and receive your number instantly, so you can apply for licences right away.

You’ll get your permanent WIN card in the mail within six weeks, and it will be valid for five years. When you need to renew it, you can renew it either online or in person. The My Wild Alberta website has a whole page of FAQs about the WIN card, so head there if you have more specific questions.

Once you’ve completed these two steps, you are ready to apply for available hunting and fishing licences, as well as draws for special licences in your Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) of choice. We’ll be back next Wednesday to explain how that works.

11 thoughts on “First time hunting in Alberta? Here’s what you need to do before applying for a licence.

  1. Pingback: Know Before you Go: the hunting edition | Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development

  2. Just passed my hunter course yesterday by online. Was fantastic and very informative. So excited to be able to hunt next season.

  3. I’m asking for a friend…
    He took the Hunter Ed course in Gr8, some 27 yrs ago. He can’t find his Hunter Ed certificate.
    What can he do to confirm that he took and passed the course so that he can get his wildlife certificate?

    • Hi Geoff, your friend can call AHEIA (Alberta Hunter Education Instructors Association) at 1-866-852-4342, they may or may not have a record but they would have done the training and would be the only people who may have retained the record.

  4. Pingback: Know Before you Go: the hunting edition | Alberta Environment and Parks

  5. Pingback: Navigating the Paperwork | Alberta Environment and Parks

  6. Hello, how am I supposed to hunt without my cfsc? My brother is a hunter and owns many rifles, am I legally able to use his firearm while hinting with him?

  7. Curious about age to hunt
    Why are people allowed to fish for free
    When their over 65.
    Yet still have to purchase a hunting licence at any age.
    Why not make it the same if not raise the age to 70 or 75.
    My dad grew up hunting before licences were required
    He’s now 80 and what a go around to get rigged up for maybe one day of his life. Which will give much happiness.
    I think they’ve paid their duty to society why not give them something more back in return

  8. I plan on doing a lot of hunting this year so thanks for sharing this. I like your point about getting a WIN card if you come form outside the province. I’ll be sure to do this beforehand so I don’t run into any legal trouble when hunting.

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