By Jim Low
JEFFERSON CITY — There are two ways of doing most things — the hard way and the smart way.
Completing hunter education in September is definitely the smart way, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Hunter Education Program Coordinator Tony Legg says he sees lots of people doing hunter education the hard way.
“A surprising number wait until October or even November to try to sign up for hunter education,” says Legg. “By that time, hunting seasons have already started, school is in full swing, and it gets harder and harder to work one more thing into your schedule.”
Even worse, says Legg, hunter education classes close to home can fill up, forcing latecomers to travel long distances or take classes at inconvenient times.
It is much smarter to take a hunter education class now, before the rush.
Hunters who were born on or after Jan. 1, 1967, and are 16 or older must successfully complete an approved hunter-education course to qualify to buy firearms hunting permits.
Some hunters who otherwise would not need hunter education must be certified if they want to mentor novice hunters.
Details are listed on Page 2 of the 2013 Summary of Missouri Hunting and Trapping Regulations, available from permit vendors or at mdc.mo.gov/node/11416.
The hunter education course consists of two parts. Step 1 is acquiring the necessary knowledge about hunting equipment, safety, and ethics. This can be done one of three ways:
• Completing a convenient online course that provides information in written form augmented with illustrations, graphs, audio, videos, and interactive animation, or
• Obtaining a student manual online at mdc.mo.gov/node/23045 or by calling or visiting one of the Conservation Department regional offices listed on Page 33 of the hunting and trapping regulation guide, and completing the course at your own pace, or
• Registering for and attending a four-hour instructor-led classroom session.
After completing Step 1, hunters can obtain their certification by attending a four-hour skills session that fits their schedule.
These sessions consist of instructor-led, hands-on exercises designed to help students put their knowledge into practice. After the session, students take a 35-question multiple-choice exam.
Legg urges hunters to put hunter education at the top of their pre-season to-do lists.
“Meeting the hunter education requirement doesn’t have to be a hassle,” he says. “The current course structure offers more flexibility and more fun than ever before. There is no reason to put it off.”