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Hunter Education

instructor teaching a boy how to use a firearm
Student learning how to safely
handle a firearm

The Hunter Education course is required for learning the necessary safety techniques and responsibilities as a hunter when using a gun, muzzleloader, crossbow or bow to pursue wild game.

Additional requirements for bowhunting big game: If hunting deer or bear with a bow, you must also take a Bowhunter Education course.

Register for a Hunter Education Course

Register for a Hunter Education Course (link leaves DEC's website). You must attend the entire field session on the date(s) and at the location indicated on the course schedule listing.

All Hunter Education Courses require the completion of homework prior to attending the course.

Proof of completed homework must be brought to the course led by an instructor. The homework will take several hours to complete.

There are NO 'online-only' courses. All courses have an in-person field day.

Homework and Study Materials

You can complete the homework several ways (please choose one):

  1. Download Today's Hunter Manual and print and complete the Hunter Education Homework Worksheet (link leaves DEC's website). If you prefer a hard copy, the manual and worksheet can be picked up at most DEC Wildlife offices or may be available for pick up at other locations as specified in the course instructions. (Cost: Free).

OR

  1. Take and complete an online course. There is a non-DEC fee involved, which is noted below.
    Available online course (link leave DEC's website): register for New York Hunter Safety Course on hunter-ed.com (Cost: $15.00).

Once the online course is completed you will print out a completion voucher. Bring that voucher to the course led by an instructor as proof of completed homework.

General Course Details and Requirements

Course Topics Covered

  • Firearm and crossbow handling and safety techniques
  • History of firearms
  • Knowledge of firearms and ammunition
  • Proper gun handling and storage
  • Marksmanship fundamentals
  • Specific laws and regulations
  • Principles of wildlife management and wildlife identification
  • Outdoor Safety
  • Hunter ethics
  • Hunter responsibility toward wildlife, the environment, landowners and the general public

Age Restrictions/Requirements

Students must be 11 years or older to take this course (Note: In New York State the minimum age to hunt is 12-years old).

Students 11 to 16-years old must have a signed permission slip (PDF, 106 KB) from a parent or legal guardian to allow for the handling and shooting of a firearm during this course.

Course Length

Minimum of 7 hours.

Hunter Education Certificate

Students must attend all sessions of the course, demonstrate proper attitude and safety, and pass a final exam of 50 questions. After successful completion of the course, students will receive a Hunter Education Certificate of Qualification, which is required for purchasing a first-time hunting license in New York State.

Get more details on certificates: including how to replace a lost certificate and out of state certificate requirements.