Hunting preserves Cherokee Nation’s natural beauty. It maintains a critical and delicate balance in nature.


There’s a heart-pounding moment right before the shot is made.


Hunters appreciate the thrill of the hunt, and food on the table.


Like many native cultures, Cherokees extensively relied on hunting. The rights to hunting grounds were fought over by Cherokees and other tribes during heated games of stickball, an ancestor of lacrosse, still played in many Cherokee communities today.  Cherokees’ historic homeland, within the boundaries of modern-day North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia, possessed vast and bountiful forests. Deer were plentiful, and they were the most prized game animal for Cherokees. Not only were deer hides valuable in trade with Europeans, the entirety of the animal proved useful for constructing clothing, shelter, tools and decorations. 


Cherokees would practice their religious beliefs in their hunting trips. Cherokee hunters would take part in purification rituals before and after venturing out to hunt. These hunters possessed a profound respect for the animals they hunted. After a successful hunt, Cherokees would pray forgiveness from the Creator for taking an animal’s life. 


Today, thanks to Cherokee Nation’s free hunting and fishing license for any of its citizens ages 16 and over living in Oklahoma, this highly regarded tradition may be passed from generation to generation with few hindrances. With this license, Oklahoma’s diverse wildlife, including but not limited to antelope, elk, deer, waterfowl, pheasant, quail, turkeys, wild boars and bears may be hunted in Oklahoma during each animal’s hunting season. (For all the details, be sure to review Oklahoma’s 2018-2019 Hunting Regulations Guide here (in PDF format)


All Cherokee citizens who obtain a hunting and fishing license—even those who do not hunt or fish—help preserve wildlife and fund conservation efforts in Oklahoma with federal dollars. The license also allows Cherokees to walk the popular trails on land owned by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, like the Sparrow Hawk Wildlife Management Area near Tahlequah. Even better, the compact between the state of Oklahoma and Cherokee Nation does not change the original rights of Cherokees to hunt and fish on tribal trust, restricted and fee lands. 


Please enjoy the hunting resources found here. They are here to inform both seasoned and new hunters in Cherokee Nation.