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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has added a link to a translation service developed by Microsoft Inc., entitled Bing Translator, as a convenience to visitors to the DEC website who speak languages other than English.

Additional information can be found at DEC's Language Assistance Page.

Hunter Education

instructor teaching 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. DEC offers a convenient Combination Bowhunter and Hunter Education course for you to take both courses at once.

Register for a Hunter Education Course

There are two types of courses to consider when you register for a Hunter Education course (see table below). Be sure you select the appropriate course type that best accommodates your needs.

Course Type Online Registration Link Course Information
Traditional Course

Register for a Hunter Education Traditional Course
(link leaves DEC's website)

The traditional course is taught completely by an instructor or team of instructors. All study materials are supplied at the time of the course. In most instances, this is the only course type offered.

Cost: Free

Home Study Course

Register for a Hunter Education Home Study Course
(link leaves DEC's website)

Both parts of a home study course listed below must be completed. Students should register for this type of course prior to starting the homework.

It is important to register for a home study course before completing the homework portion. Home study courses are not offered in every county.

Part 1 - Complete a homework portion on your own in one of two ways:
(will take at least 8 hours to complete).

Part 2 - Attend a field session led by an instructor:
You must attend a field session on the date(s) and at the location indicated on the course schedule listing. A completed workbook OR online certificate must be brought to the field session.

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) (54 KB) from a parent or legal guardian to allow for the handling and shooting of a firearm during this course.

Course Length

Minimum of 10 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.