Hunters education required in Texas

Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt, our 26th president, avid hunter and conservationist, once stated, “Defenders of the short-sighted men who in their greed and selfishness will, if permitted, rob our country of half its charm by their reckless extermination of all useful and beautiful wild things sometimes seek to champion them by saying ‘the game belongs to the people.’ So it does; and not merely to the people now alive, but to the unborn people.”

Roosevelt, like many hunters before, took the initiative to learn ethical hunting and then to teach and lead by example the responsibility to take care of our country’s vast wild-land and wildlife population.

Today in Texas, every hunter (including out-of-state hunters) born on or after Sept. 2, 1971 must successfully complete hunter education training.

While hunting is safe in comparison to other common sports, each injury can cause extreme physical and emotional pain for the victim, the shooter, and their families.

Hunter education courses are designed to teach hunting safety, principles of conservation and sportsmanship.

“Mandatory” hunter education became law in 1988. Since 1972, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has offered hunter education courses which have certified over one million students.

Since the inception of the hunter safety course, hunting accidents have decreased by an estimated 50 percent, with the biggest decrease occurring over the last 20 years.

In Texas, hunter safety courses are offered throughout the year. If you take the class in Texas and pass the test offered, your certification is valid and accepted in every state and province in North America.

The basic classroom course consist of six hours of instruction, including some skill exercises, review and final exam. The online plus field course has two parts: a free online course provided by the parks department or the National Rifle Association and a field course – four hours minimum.

Anyone age 9-16 who want to hunt in Texas must complete a classroom course or an online plus field course.

There is also an online-only course that is restricted to persons 17 years of age or older. Online coursework varies depending on pre-knowledge, age, reading level and other factors.

The field course is comprised of hands-on skills and live-fire exercises provided by a certified instructor.

Hunters age 17 and older can obtain a one-time, one-year deferral from the education requirement for $10. When hunting, they must be accompanied by someone who was born before the Sept. 2, 1971 cutoff or who has completed a hunters education course.