I Want to Hunt - How Do I Start?

Cinque Terre

Let’s start at the very beginning—going back to school and doing the paperwork. Don’t let this deter you, as these steps will teach you a lot and give you confidence in your new ambition. As a resident of Alberta, here are the first four things you need to do: 


Step One: Take the Hunter Education Course

The Alberta Hunter Education Course is a provincial requirement for all first-time hunters in Alberta. The course covers hunting ethics, wildlife identification, firearms, and field techniques. While the Alberta Hunter Education Instructors Association (AHEIA) offers the course online and in a classroom setting, we recommend getting into the classroom. The instructors have years, if not decades, of experience and the hands-on training is invaluable—especially if firearms and hunting are completely new to you.

Find out more at or call the AHEIA office in Edmonton (780-466-6682) or Calgary (403-252-8474).


Step Two: Take the Canadian Firearms Safety Course

The Canadian Firearms Safety Course is a federal requirement for you to apply for a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL). The course covers teaches the safe use, transportation and storage of firearms and ammunition. Once you pass the written and practical exam, you can apply for your PAL.

Find out more at or call the AHEIA office in Edmonton (780-466-6682) or Calgary (403-252-8474).


Step Three: Apply for a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL)

A Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) is a federal requirement for you to possess a firearm and obtain ammunition. You submit your application to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). An application form is usually provided to you at the end of the Canadian Firearms Safety Course or you can apply online at


Step Four: Purchase a Wildlife Identification Number (WIN)

Your Wildlife Identification Number (WIN) is like your Social Insurance Number for the Alberta hunting and fishing community. You will use your 10-digit number to apply for hunting draws and purchase hunting licences in Alberta. You can purchase your WIN card online at or from licence issuers, such as an outdoor retailer or gas station.


With these two courses completed and a PAL and WIN card in your wallet, you next step is to consider what method of hunting works for you. Check out the next article in our Start Harvesting series: Shotgun, Rifle, or Bow?

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