Jessica Dommel
multimedia reporter

With the fall hunting season approaching, now is the perfect time for Texans to get a hunter education.

“Hunter education is a firearms safety and hunting safety course offered to the general public,” said Steve Hall, hunter education coordinator for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Service (TPWD).

Hunter education is mandatory for Texas hunters born after September 2, 1971.

Teach hunters everything they need to know when going hunting or going to the shooting range.

“We teach firearm safety, responsibility, handling, and nomenclature for all things like action types,” Hall said in an interview with the Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network. It will familiarize you with the tools used in the sport, mostly rifles, shotguns and handguns, but also include a bit of muzzle loading and archery equipment.”

The course also covers hunter responsibilities such as correct shooting and caring for game.

“[We also]deal with the public image, ethics, and responsibilities that each hunter, or in this case, the outdoorsman, wishes to portray to his fellow recreational enthusiasts in the field, or simply to the general public. “We obviously want to continue to hunt with respect.”

Hunters under the age of 17 have two options to complete their Hunter Education.

“There are two categories of face-to-face classes. One is called classrooms, where you can take a six-hour course or you can take an Internet and field course,” says Hall. “The Internet is like a more hands-on pre-learning in a field course, usually within scope.”

Field courses last at least four hours and include ethics discussions, mock or live fire activities, a hunter skills trail, and a final exam.

Online-only courses are available for hunters over the age of 17.

Hunters who are 17 years of age or older and have no hunter training but wish to hunt this season are eligible for a one-time deferment for one year. Proof of an approved deferment is required while hunting.

While some hunters are required by law to have a hunter education, Hall says Texans who don’t need to take the course can also benefit.

“A lot of people who don’t need a hunter education take courses primarily for the firearm safety portion of the course,” Hall said. Many people who might buy firearms for other reasons may take courses to learn a little bit about the hunter’s role in protection, survival, first aid, etc. other relevant topics.

Hunter education has been offered in Texas since 1972.

Mandatory from 1988 to those born after September 2, 1971.

“It definitely[leads to]a significant reduction in hunting incidents and improved compliance with hunting regulations during that period,” Hall said. There is empirical data that shows a clear relationship between law enforcement, a true hallmark of hunter education success not just in Texas, but across the country.”

According to Hall, those with hunter education are more aware of hunting laws, ethics, and responsibilities while hunting.

“The fall of 2021, and essentially that year, has been a record year of safety for Texas,” Hall said. It was a good year for us in the sense that it was the lowest year ever recorded.”

Links to sign up for Hunter Education can be found on the Hunting tab of the TPWD website.

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