Hunting & Heritage  |  11/13/2023

What is party hunting and where is it legal?


Always contact a local conservation officer if you’re unsure of regulations in your area

If you’re a bird hunter you’ve likely heard the term “party hunting,” but may not be completely familiar with what it means. 

Party hunting refers to a group of hunters trying to shoot their collective daily bag limit, regardless of who pulls the trigger on each individual bird. For example, say you and two of your buddies head out for a Saturday morning pheasant hunt in Minnesota, where the daily bag limit is two roosters per person. With three people in your party, that means you can bag a total of six birds on the day. Party hunting means individuals in your group may shoot more than their daily limit, so long as you do not exceed your collective limit. 

That does not, however, mean you get to take home more birds than the daily individual limit. Using the same hunt as an example, let’s say you shoot four roosters on your Saturday morning hunt while each of your friends shoot one. At the end of the day, you divvy up the birds, two apiece. You do not get to take four birds home. 

While party hunting is legal in Minnesota, it is illegal in many other states. Regulations also vary depending on what you’re hunting. Some states allow party hunting for deer, some only for small game. Party hunting for migratory birds, however, is almost always illegal. 

The following is an excerpt from page 43 of Minnesota’s 2023-24 Hunting and Trapping Regulations. 

A “Party” is defined as a group of two or more persons maintaining unaided visual and verbal contact with each other while taking non-migratory small game. “Party hunting” means that members of a party may take animals for other member’s limits. A party may lawfully take small game in accordance with the following regulations. 

  • A member of the party may take more than an individual limit, but the total number of small game taken and possessed by the party may not exceed the combined limits of members of the party. 
  • Each party member may transport only an individual limit of small game. 
  • Party hunting is not allowed for migratory game birds, including doves, ducks, geese, mergansers, coots, woodcock, rail, sandhill cranes, snipe and gallinules. 

Minnesota and South Dakota are some of the major pheasant producing states that allow party hunting for upland birds. Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, North Dakota and Montana expressly prohibit the practice.