Hunting Rights for a Convicted Felon

If you are a convicted felon, you cannot own a firearm. In most parts of the United States, you cannot even use a gun, which means you cannot hunt with a gun. However, there are exceptions to this rule. In some states, your right to own a firearm is restored after you have served your sentence or after a specific period of time has passed since the end of your sentence. For example, Louisiana permits convicted felons to reinstate their gun rights 10 years after their sentences end, provided they are not convicted of additional felonies during that 10-year period. Additionally, convictions for certain white collar crimes do not preclude you from owning or using a firearm.

Hunting License vs. Firearms License

A hunting license is not the same as a firearms license. In many states, such as Arkansas, hunting license applicants are not subject to background checks. Many states also do not require specific permits to hunt with guns. A few states, such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island, do have laws that prohibit certain felons from hunting and/or require would-be hunters to obtain separate permits for hunting and possessing firearms.

Hunting and Firearm Options for Convicted Felons

The laws of the state where you live and the states where you plan to hunt determine your options for obtaining a firearm and hunting license. In many states, it is possible for a convicted felon to have his gun rights restored through a governor’s pardon or a restoration of rights under the state’s clemency board. When you are prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm under state and federal laws, you must comply. When an individual without a conviction purchases a firearm for a convicted friend or relative to use, that individual is breaking the law and subject to prosecution. This is known as a straw purchase.

Read More: Restrictions for Convicted Felons

Determine if You Can Hunt in Your State

It is important to remember that in the United States, two sets of laws apply to most situations: federal law and state law. Though something might be permitted under federal law, it could be illegal under one or more state and local laws. For example, federal law does not consider a crossbow to be a firearm. Thus, a convicted felon may hunt with a crossbow without violating federal law. However, some states, such as New York, prohibit convicted felons from possessing and using crossbows, so it is illegal for a felon to hunt with a crossbow in those jurisdictions.


  • In many states, your right to hunt is separate from your right to own a gun. State laws vary regarding hunting and firearm permits. In some states, you may be able to hunt with a crossbow or have your right to own a gun restored.

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