Hunter Education Course

Youth receives live-fire training at a Colorado youth hunt for hunter education graduates. Each year more than 58,000 hunter education instructors train around 670,000 students in the United States and over 18,000 instructors train an additional 90,000 students each year in Canada and Mexico. Hunter Education Courses are administered by each state, Canadian provinces, Mexico and various other countries. Mandatory requirements vary, but all courses are designed around standards as agreed upon through the work of the International Hunter Education Association-USA in collaboration with other countries. In most cases, a prospective hunter can take a course in any state or province that will allow them to hunt wherever hunter education is required.

Hunter Education courses cover hunting safety, firearms, bows, wildlife identification, wildlife management, survival, game care, ethics, responsibility, and regulations. Traditional courses require attendance at multiple instructor-led sessions. Students are required to pass written and or skills tests in order to pass the course.

Most agencies offer alternative courses where some of the material can be studies at home to reduce class time and scheduling conflicts. Alternative courses may be offered online, or by using combinations of written manuals, workbooks, CDs, DVDs, or videotape. Students enrolled in these courses may also have to complete some instructor-led training and testing procedures. Some states accept online-only options (go to News-Events/Program Profile for state information).

In a few cases, agencies may offer alternative courses for non-residents or test-out programs. Participation in these types of programs may limit graduates to hunting for a specific time period in a specific jurisdiction. Hunters wanting full privileges from their training may still be required to attend full courses.

Bowhunter Education Course

Bowhunter in treestand.  Silvertip ProductionsBowhunter Education courses are offered throughout most of North America. Some states and provinces require completion of a bowhunter education course before permitting people to bowhunt in their jurisdiction (go to News-Events/Program Profile for further information). Bowhunter classes include safe use of bows, treestand safety, shot placement, tracking, game care, ethics, responsibility, regulations, and more.

Bowhunter Education courses are coordinated by the International Bowhunter Education Foundation, in cooperation with states. provinces and the International Hunter Education Association-USA, IHEA-Canada and IHEA-Mexico.

Trapper Education Course

Trapper Education Course Field Day &copy Silvertip ProductionsApproximately half of all states and all Canadian provinces have mandatory trapper education programs. Many other states offer voluntary trapper education clinics. Trapper Education courses cover best management practices, equipment, furbearer identification and management, sets, health, safety, pelt preparation, regulations, ethics, and responsibilities.

Agencies often cooperate with trapping organizations, and some offer advanced clinics where students can set traps, check them, and learn pelt preparation in the field with qualified instructors.

Muzzleloading (Black Powder) Course

Shooting a flintlock rifle. &copy Silvertip ProductionsAt least ten states and one province have mandatory muzzleloading courses. Voluntary courses and clinics are available in most other areas from the agency and/or the National Muzzleloading Rifle Association. Muzzleloading courses cover the safe and effective use of blackpowder and muzzleloading firearms for target shooting and hunting.

Advanced Courses and Clinics

Each year many agencies offer a variety of other courses and clinics of interest to hunters and trappers. These include species-specific hunting classes for deer, wild turkeys, big game, waterfowl, or upland birds. Other clinics may focus on specific types of equipment, such as handguns or crossbows, or even on a specific skill such as waterfowl identification.

Other Organizations

Duck hunters setting out decoys. &copy Silvertip ProductionsHunters who want additional training and skills should also look into programs offered by other organizations, such as the National Rifle Association, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the United States Sportsmen's Alliance. Local shooting ranges and conservation clubs may have special programs as well.