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Are Possession Limits Additive Over State Lines?

Anthony, Andrew & I pose for a picture in my front yard before launching our Rooster Road Trip.

As we embark on the Rooster Road Trip, it’s obviously important for us to follow the letter of the law in each state we visit to pheasant hunt.  Most issues are pretty clear (non-toxic vs. lead shot, shooting hours differences, private lands access programs, etc.). 

However, there is one issue we began to get concerned with addressing: possession limits in hunting five different states consecutively.  Are possession limits additive based on the number of different state licenses you have to hunt pheasants in your possession? 

For instance, how should we identify birds bagged in North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Nebraska to make sure a conservation officer in Kansas doesn’t issue us a citation for having more than the possession limit for pheasants in Kansas on their opening day? 

Likewise, is it legal for us to bag our South Dakota 3-bird individual limit by noon and cross over into Minnesota with those SoDak birds in the truck to chase Minnesota roosters till sundown? 

To obtain the answers, I emailed the wildlife department of each state’s natural resources agency.  Turns out, these questions aren’t asked very often.  Easy to see why!  And, yes, I’m probably over-estimating our expected success.  However, I live by the “better safe, than sorry,” mantra.  Anyway, here’s what I’ve found. 

Pheasant possession limits are additive by the state licenses in your possession . . . mostly.  The best guidance offered was to bag each bird individually with the hunter’s name, license number, the state harvested, and date.  They also all reminded me that it’s important that each bird has the proper body parts left on for identification (wing, head and/or leg).  

Although the burden of proving wrong-doing falls upon the state conservation officer, it’s pretty guilty looking for three guys to be in possession of a couple dozen birds in a cooler on Kansas’ opening day.  Our Road Trip would certainly present trouble for a conservation officer that encounters our ugly mugs. 

The solution may be to simply fire up the Smokey Joe each day and cook our harvest as we go.  At least that will give us a few built-in recipe blog entries along the way. 

The other recommendation given was for us to gift birds to folks in the state we’re hunting.  For instance, in Minnesota the law requires the donor to write his/her name and address, along with the recipient’s name and address on the bag.  The law also requires the donor to date the gift, including a description of the gift (number of birds and species), and the license number the animals were taken under.   

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.

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3 Responses to “Are Possession Limits Additive Over State Lines?”

  1. Duane Bush says:

    Sounds like a great road trip. I am very interested to see how you do in Kansas as my fellow Utah hunting buds and I are thinking of trying a Kansas hunt soon. We just got back from our annual So Dak hunt and saw more birds than ever including bagging about 12 sharptail grouse and all exclusively on public and walk-in lands and using the state provided download maps for our GPS navigation system and the most needed State Hunting Atlas. Can you let us know what maps you use for each state and where to get them? Thanks and good luck!!!

  2. Dave says:

    Another idea on what to do with birds as you go –

    If you knew someone along the way you could drop the birds in their freezer until you pick them up later.

  3. Duane & Dave,
    Thanks for the comments.
    We have all the public lands maps for each state. We have a PLOTS map in NoDak, a walk in map for SD & KS and a CRP-MAP Atlas for Nebraska. In Minnesota, we have a Sportsman’s Atlas that cost $40; otherwise all the other 4 state maps are free. You can get any of the 4 by phoning the state natural resource agency.


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