Hunter Safety Blog

Debunking Rumors About Weird Hunting Laws

September 8, 2011
by Brent McNamee

There are about a jillion 'weird/dumb laws' websites out there in virtual wonderland, but just about all of them are missing one important thing: credible references indicating where they found these crazy laws! For instance, according to one of these websites, "In New Jersey, it is against the law for a man to knit during fishing season" but good luck trying to find out why.

While it's true that many laws in the books are grossly outdated (by a few centuries!) and there are many ways to 'interpret' laws, to repeal each and every outdated law is a time-consuming and tedious process and clearly doesn't happen often enough.

Nevertheless, it's interesting to look at how some ridiculous laws came to be in the first place, and we've taken on the task of digging deeper. Feel free to add the weird laws you know after the list.

1. In California it is illegal to set a mouse trap without a hunting license.

False. California passed a law in 2002 to regulate the taking of fish, game, and other animals that may be legally killed for purposes of recreation or commerce. As far as mice are concerned, ‘recreational’ killing is not a widespread problem nor is trapping them for commercial purposes. The exception provided in Article 1.5 however does allow the state to trap rodents for biological research and field investigation. (Source)

2. In Alaska, a person may only carry a concealed slingshot if that person has received the appropriate license.

True. Any person other than a law enforcement officer must have a valid State of Alaska concealed weapon permit to carry a concealed weapon. What’s considered a concealed weapon? A knife, a dirk or dagger, a slingshot, metal knuckles, and anything that could potentially harm a person or property. (Source)

3. In Massachusetts all men must carry a rifle to church on Sunday.

False. This law has been repealed since 1637. Back in Colonial America, colonial governments knew that in order to protect themselves from foreign armies, 'Indians' and pirates their population had to be armed and ready for action. The whole town would be centralized at Church on Sunday so it was especially important the men be prepared for attack. A man could be fined a whole of twelve pence for not carrying some form of arm. (Source)

4. Los Angeles law forbids hunting moths under a street light.

Missing Info. Moth hunting was a popular pass time in the Victorian era when avid collectors used to beat caterpillars down from trees. Our theory on the law... Since moths are attracted to light maybe street lamps were seen as an unfair hunt. We couldn't find any information about why LA prohibits hunting moths under street lights.

5. In Tennessee, it is illegal to shoot any game other than whales from a moving automobile.

False. What the law actually states that hunting from an aircraft, watercraft or motor vehicle is unlawful unless persons are confined to wheelchairs.

6. In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to catch fish using your mouth, your hands or dynamite

True. Emil Svetahor, a law enforcement supervisor for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that though he's never had to stop an angler for illegal mouth fishing the penalty for doing so will cost the the culprit $100. (Source)

7. In Texas it is illegal for one to shoot a buffalo from the second story of a hotel.

Missing Info. We couldn't find any information that confirms or denies this law. However, by doing a little investigation into 19th century bison hunting we have a theory on how this law may have come about. It seems ‘market hunters’ (mostly made up of white hunters) systematically depopulated the bison population in the late 1800s to push Native American populations out by ridding them of their primary source of food and clothing.

By practically hunting buffalo to extinction, the severity of wildlife depopulation may have instigated the passing of laws to limit and regulate hunting. So maybe there were regulations about where you could hunt and hotel balconies were off the charts.

8. In Michigan any person over the age of 12 may have a license for a handgun as long as he/she has not been convicted of a felony.

False. As you would learn in the Michigan hunter safety course, you must be at least 21 to purchase a pistol from a federal dealer under both federal and Michigan law (but only has to be 18 if buying the pistol or handgun from a private seller). (Source)

These are just some crazy laws we've heard, if you know about any others please help extend this list in the comment section below!