You Can Get a Unicorn Hunting License From Michigan’s Lake Superior State College

A 1602 fresco by Domenichino showing Giulia Farnese with a unicorn.
A 1602 fresco by Domenichino showing Giulia Farnese with a unicorn. / Palazzo Farnese, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

If you’re looking for unicorns in an enchanted forest or anywhere on Earth, you’d better have a hunting license—luckily, Michigan’s Lake Superior State University (LSSU) issues them for free.

In the early 1970s, LSSU’s public relations director Bill Rabe teamed up with a few English professors to found the Department of Natural Unicorns of the Unicorn Hunters. Hunters got changed to questers later that decade to make it clear the organization didn’t condone the killing of mythical beasts. In fact, the licenses don’t allow the use of any weapons, except rubber-tipped arrows during October’s annual “bow-and-arrow” week.

Originally, licenses had to be physically mailed to applicants, a job that often fell to Rabe’s children during summer vacation. “A few days after my dad would be on radio, TV, or in the newspaper, the office would get a ton of requests for a license. Sometimes hundreds,” James Rabe, now a radio host, wrote for Y105FM. “Which made for the weirdest summer job ever, mailing Unicorn Hunting Licenses to people all over the world.”

To become a certified quester these days, all you have to do is print out this PDF version of the license, sign your name, and email a photo of you holding the license to (specifying whether or not you grant the university permission to share the photo on social media). After that, you’re free to chase unicorns—as long as you abide by all departmental regulations.

There are quite a few of those, though many are optional. Questing season runs all year, with two important exceptions: Valentine’s Day, and whenever “the tooth fairy or Santa Claus is around.” Since those magical beings are about as elusive as unicorns, you can probably disregard that caveat. Rookie questers should take a look at the “questing kit” for recommendations about what to bring; items include “serious intent,” “general levity,” “Arthurian legend books and/or works by Chaucer,” and a flask of cognac (for you, not the unicorns).

[h/t Y105FM]