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Aug. 13, 2009
Hunter Education Classes Filling Up Fast for Fall
AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is encouraging hunters in need of certification to enroll soon as fall hunter education courses are filling up fast. As hunting seasons draw closer, demand for hunter education classes is expected to increase.
"It would be much better to enroll early and avoid the rush right at the beginning of hunting seasons," said Terry Erwin, Coordinator for Hunter Education at TPWD. "Don’t wait, because the number of available courses begins to taper off as the hunting season grows closer."
Anyone born after Sept. 1, 1971 is required to take the Hunter Education Training Course in order to hunt in Texas. The minimum age a hunter may be certified was lowered last year to 9, and experts have advice for people who want to take advantage of this relatively new provision.
"Though students may be certified at age 9, we still suggest they be accompanied by an adult guardian until the parent or guardian feels that they’re mature enough to hunt on their own," Erwin said. "We lowered certification to age 9 last year to go along with the Texas Youth Hunting Program, which requires certification to participate. We do expect parents to provide good supervision during hunting, and who better should know if their youngster is mature enough to be allowed to hunt?"
Hunters who are at least 17 years of age and have not completed the hunter education course can defer completion for one year. Hunters who opted for "deferral" last year must complete the hunter education course to hunt legally this year.
Hunter education courses are conducted by certified volunteers all year across the state of Texas. Courses cost $15 and students have two options: take the FREE classroom study portion on-line plus a one-day field component or take the traditional two-day course that averages 14 hours of instruction.
"The deferral is only available once. The license point-of-sale vendors are not allowed to sell a deferral once it has been purchased by an individual," Erwin said. "The database keeps track of the sale, and will not allow a sale to occur with the same individual."
More than 30,000 aspiring hunters become certified every year in Texas and since 1972, 820,000 Texans have completed the hunter education course, which is mandatory in all 50 states and 10 Canadian Provinces. Currently, hunter education courses are taught by 2,900 volunteers comprised of game wardens, professional educators, and volunteers at TPWD.
As a result of hunter education courses, Texas hunting accident rates have steadily decreased since 1966 when 12 accidents per 100,000 hunters were reported and the last three years have seen the rate lowered to 2.9 accidents per 100,000 hunters. In fact, football players are, based on 100,000 participants, 391 times more likely to be injured than hunters.
"Hunting is safe and getting safer because of hunter education," Erwin said. "Make sure you are one of those responsible individuals who wish to continue the heritage of hunting for generations to come. Help preserve our hunting heritage by becoming a certified instructor. If interested, please contact our office at 1-800-792-1112, Ext. 4999."
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