A precautionary tale: Family learns state photo id needed to purchase first hunting licenses

Louisiana law requires driver’s license, state-issued photo identification card, LDWF says.

It was homecoming week at Sam Houston High School, and Tristan Jordan had several options during the weekend of Oct. 26. His dad, Chris, said his 16-year old son had plans for a bonfire, and, of course, there was the big football game and, more than likely, a homecoming dance to attend.

But Tristan, who has been hunting with his father since the age of 3, decided he’d rather go deer hunting that weekend. So they made plans to hunt on a lease they often visit in Southwest Louisiana between the small towns of DeQuincy and Starks.Chris Jordan said that after church that morning they headed to a big-box retailer in the Lake Charles area to buy Tristan’s first hunting license, as he had turned 16 only days before.

But when they attempted to the purchase the teenager’s license, they encountered problems: According to Chris Jordan, the process was made impossible because the store’s computer system (which as a state-licensed vendor for hunting licenses, is plugged into the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries network) required that Tristan have a driver’s license or a state-issued ID to complete the transaction.

Because he had neither, Tristan couldn’t acquire the license and consequently, the father-and-son hunt was off.

“Apparently, you can’t buy a resident license if you don’t have a driver’s license or a state-issued ID,” Chris Jordan said. “We could have bought him a non-resident license, but that costs $150 more. We called the help number that was on the computer, and 45 minutes later we still had no answer. I thought that there had to be a way around this.

But there wasn’t.

“I thought, ‘Well, there goes the hunt.’ We’re not doing it without the proper license. We abide by the laws — no ifs, ands or buts.”

The law, according to the LDWF, is a state mandate spelled out in Revised Statute 56:8, subsection 16(a)(ii) that says a minor can acquire the proper license “(i)f licensed to drive a motor vehicle, he is in possession of a Louisiana driver’s license, or, if over the age of 15 years and not licensed to drive, he is in possession of a special identification card issued by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections under the provisions of R.S. 40:1321.”

LDWF Press Secretary Bo Boehringer said the law is designed to ensure that people from out of state don’t attempt to purchase a resident license when they should pay the out-of-state fee.

Currently, the cost of in-state basic hunting licenses is $15 for a Louisiana resident, but it’s $150 for a non-resident. Tack on the big-game option for deer, and that’s an additional $150 for those who live outside of the state, as opposed to an extra $14 for state residents.

The difference between a $300 bill and a $29 bill is large enough to merit the law, Boehringer said.

“It minimizes the opportunity for fraudulent license purchases,” he said of the state ID requirement. “The goal is to simplify the process (for the clerks at the point of sale.)

“I’ve heard of people trying to show a light bill or a water bill to prove they were state residents. They may have been people who just had a camp here who lived in an adjacent state and (wanted to buy a resident license).

“We want to protect the system. That’s the process.”

Chris Jordan, for his part, has no problem with the regulations, saying that he always “goes by the book” when it comes to any regulations the state has in place. But as a lifelong hunter, and with his son hoping to join the list of registered hunters, he figured the system would be a bit more forgiving.

“The thing that got me wrapped around the axle more than anything was that to get (a state-issued ID,) you need a birth certificate and a social security card: That’s all they need to prove it (at the Department of Motor Vehicles),” he said. “So, why not for a hunting license?”

Chris Jordan had Tristan’s birth certificate and social security card at the ready to buy a hunting license for his son, so he doesn’t understand why there is what he sees as a lack of streamlining between Louisiana governmental agencies. He said the fact that Tristan has completed a state hunter education course and has even received a recent deer harvest survey at his Louisiana address should be proof enough that his son is indeed a Louisiana resident.

“You’d think that with the drop in hunters we’ve had in recent years, why would they make it more difficult to get a license to hunt?” he said.

All will be resolved soon enough, however, at least for the Jordans: Chris Jordan said plans were to get a state-issued ID for his son this week, and Tristan is set to begin driver’s education classes soon.

Meanwhile, the elder Jordan said he hoped his family’s tale was cautionary for others.

“I’d hate to see another parent go through this,” Jordan said. “I don’t disagree with the regulations, but I don’t think it should be difficult for 16-year-old to get a license to hunt.”

Boehringer said the laws in place have a purpose, and he urged all who may have questions about proper licensing procedures to call the LDWF.

“If it saves anybody a misstep, then it’s a job well done,” he said.