Legal Spotlight


Hunting and Fishing License Agent Bonds

I spend most of my weekends, year ‘round, on the Chesapeake Bay. The area, just north of Annapolis, is a treasure trove of sport hunting and fishing, complete with many duck blinds and shotgun blasts during migratory game bird seasons; sport fishing tournaments, especially for striped bass (aka rockfish), which is exceptionally good eating; and recreational crabbing with crab traps, to create Maryland crab cakes, the best in the world.

In order to participate, legally, in such joyful pursuits, the hunter or fisherman is required in Maryland, as in other states, to obtain a specific hunting or fishing license. Where does the law-abiding sportsman obtain such licenses? They can be obtained online from the relevant state agency (such as the department of natural resources, game commission, or fish and boat commission) or from sport hunting and fishing license agents. These can be recreational/sporting goods stores (Dick’s Sporting Goods, Wal-Mart, Bass Pro Outdoor World, etc.), specialist fishing tackle shops, and any game hunting or fishing business (freshwater or saltwater). In my neck of the woods everyone gets their licenses from Fishbone’s Bait & Tackle down the road, where they can also purchase live bait and ice and refill their propane tanks at the same time.

In most jurisdictions any such business that seeks to issue hunting and fishing licenses must have its credit checked, have its application approved, and obtain a license bond. The bond guarantees the obligee, among other things, that the business will sell hunting and fishing licenses in full accordance with the law and submit the collected license fees to the obligee, the applicable state agency. The license bond protects the obligee by transferring to the surety the cost of ensuring the public is compensated for damages (up to the penal sum of the bond) resulting from a licensed business violating licensing laws. The penal sum and cost of these license bonds depend on the amounts mandated by each state and vary widely.

Hunting and fishing license agent bonds are, as are all license and permit bonds, born of various regulatory schemes, developed from state statutes, ordinances, or other regulations. But they also typically have certain things in common. If the license is not issued to the principal for some reason, the surety’s obligation under the bond does not arise. If the license is issued and the bond takes effect, the bond typically will run concurrently with the license period or any renewal of such periods. Either new bonds or continuation certificates relating to the original bonds are required for license renewals.

So, the next time you are shooting, trolling, or casting and enjoying our great outdoors, think of the beauties of commercial surety and the hunting and fishing agent license bonds.

The author of this article is Martha Perkins, General Counsel at NASBP. She can be reached at or 240.200.1270.

This article is provided to NASBP members, affiliates, and associates solely for educational and informational purposes. It is not to be considered the rendering of legal advice in specific cases or to create a lawyer-client relationship. Readers are responsible for obtaining legal advice from their own counsels, and should not act upon any information contained in this article without such advice.