August 24, 2011
AUSTIN — Hunters who need to take the mandatory hunter education course are urged to start looking for courses in their area now as classes are expected to fill up quickly leading up to dove season Sept. 1.
Terry Erwin, coordinator for hunter education at TPWD, said courses are scheduled daily, so he advises interested hunters to check the calendar online frequently for the latest updates of courses in their area. By law, the agency is required to offer the hunter education course at least once in each county every year.
“Nobody in the state should have to drive far to find a course,” Erwin said.
Hunters can take the traditional two-day course that must be spread over a minimum of ten hours during that time, or they can opt to take the knowledge-base portion online then attend one day of training in the field. The hunter education course costs $15, but there are often separate facility-use or range fees associated with the course.
To pass the course, students must take a 50-question written exam and get 70 percent correct if they take the traditional two-day course or 80 percent if they take the course online. The certification is valid for life and will be honored in all other states.
A new law created by the 82nd Texas Legislature exempts active duty military and certain veterans from the live fire component of the course.
Anyone born after Sept. 1, 1971, is required to take the Hunter Education Training Course to hunt in Texas, and individuals as young as 9 can take the course.
Because TPWD prints proof of hunter education certification on Texas hunting licenses, hunters who have already completed the course are no longer required to carry their hunter certification cards with them into the field. Hunters who purchase a hunting license prior to taking the course and those who received certification in another state should still carry proof of completion.
Hunters who are at least 17 years old and have not completed the hunter education course can defer completion for one year. However, hunters who took a deferral must complete the course before they can hunt legally this season.
“The deferral is only available once,” Erwin said. “The license point-of-sale vendors are not allowed to sell a deferral once it has been purchased by an individual.”
A database keeps track of hunters who have previously opted for a deferral and will not allow a second deferral to be sold to an individual.
As a result of hunter education courses, hunting-related accident rates in Texas have noticeably decreased since 1966 when 12 accidents per 100,000 hunters were reported. This rate has decreased to 2.9 accidents per 100,000 hunters during the last four years. In fact, based on 100,000 participants, football players are more than 390 times likely to be injured in their sport than are hunters.
“Our focus is to keep students safe in the field,” he said.
Erwin said the agency is also looking for volunteers to become certified instructors of the hunter education course.
For more information on the hunter education program, visit http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/learning/hunter_education/.