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Ask a Conservation Officer: Digital copies of licenses

Q: In some neighboring states, a picture or digital copy of a fishing or hunting license on your phone is all you need to possess while fishing or hunting. Is that the same in Minnesota?

A: Minnesota law currently requires a person taking fish or game under the privileges of an issued license to have the actual printed license in their possession.

If the license was purchased electronically, the hunter or angler must possess the hard copy of the license once it is received or printed. Photos and digital files do show evidence of the license purchased, and changes in the electronic licensing system may enable a change in this requirement in coming years, but for now you must keep the printed license with you.

Keep in mind that licenses that include a site tag, such as for deer, bear, marten, fisher or sturgeon, must always be on your person so you can validate the tag if you are successful in your pursuits. Likewise, federal waterfowl stamps must always be in possession of a waterfowl hunter under federal law. More information on this requirement can be found under Minnesota Statute 97A.405.

Matthew S. Miller is a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer with the Lake Superior Marine Unit. Send your questions to