Hunter Education Program Courses And Certifications (2024)

Hunter Education Course

The NY Hunter Education course (Hunter Safety course) is required to purchase a hunting license in New York. The course covers the necessary safety techniques and responsibilities that a hunter must know when using a gun, muzzleloader, crossbow, or bow to pursue wild game.

In-Person, Instructor-Led Hunter Education Course

You must register for in-person, instructor-led courses. Check back often as new courses are added each week. Most courses are offered between March and September.

All in-person courses are free.

*Do not wait until just before the hunting season to take a class. Classes fill quickly, so it is important to sign up early.

All In-Person Hunter Education Courses require:

  1. The completion of homework prior to attending an in-person course. Proof of completed homework must be brought to the in-person course. The homework can take several hours to complete.
  2. Participation in an in-person course that is a minimum of 7 hours in length. These courses may be scheduled for one full day or split up into several shorter time frames over several days.

Register for an In-Person, Instructor-Led, Hunter Education Course

Register for a Hunter Education Course. You must attend the entire in-person instruction portion of the course on the date(s) and at the location indicated on the course schedule listing.

Homework and Study Materials

Choose one of the following ways to obtain the study materials and complete the required homework. You must bring the completed homework with you to an in-person course.

Note: If you completed the online hunter education course, you should bring your certificate to the in-person course as proof of completion of homework. No additional homework is needed.

Download/Print

Follow the links below to download PDFs of the Today's Hunter Manual and worksheet. You must print and complete the Hunter Education Homework Worksheet.

You must bring the completed homework worksheet to your in-person course.

Hard Copy

The Today's Hunter Manual and Hunter Education Homework Worksheet can be picked up at most DEC Wildlife offices or may be available for pick up at other locations as specified in the instructions given when you register for a course.

To pick up course materials, find a DEC Wildlife Office near you.

You can also request a hard copy be mailed to you by calling1-888-486-8332.

You must bring the completed homework worksheet to your in-person course.

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
  • Hunting 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 old or older to take this course (Note: In New York State the minimum age to hunt is 12).

Students younger than 16 must have a signed permission slip (PDF) 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.

Online Hunter Education Course

You can complete all the requirements to earn a NYS hunter education certificate online. Any New York State resident 11 or older can take the online course. If you successfully complete the course and pass the final exam, you will receive your NYS hunter education certificate.

There are two online hunter education courses to choose from. Both courses cover the same material, but each has a different delivery method.

  1. Standard hunter education course - Read, listen, and watch. You can read the course material or have it read to you. A number of engaging videos help you learn safe hunting practices. The cost of the course is $24.95 and can be found at hunter-ed website.
  2. Interactive hunter education course - For students who may learn best by doing. Students make choices and complete in-course challenges to move through the course. The cost of this course is $49.95 and can be found at New York Interactive Hunter Safety Course Online | ilearntohunt.com™.

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

Hunter Education Certificate

Students must complete the required homework, 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.

Replace a lost certificate and out of state certificate requirements.

Long Island Youth Conservation Program

A two-day hands-on program for the purpose of introducing 12-16-year-olds to the basic principles of conservation, hunter education and general outdoorsmanship. Participants who successfully complete the program will receive their Hunter Education Training Certificate. This program is available each spring. The 2024 program will take place on April 20 and 21, 2024. To apply for the program, complete the Application for Youth Conservation Program (PDF).

Bowhunter Education

The NYS Bowhunter Education course is required for hunters who use a bow and arrow to hunt deer or bear. While this course is not required for hunting deer with a crossbow, or for using a bow and arrow to hunt small game or turkey, DEC encourages you to take this course to learn bow and tree stand safety techniques.

Additional Requirements: Hunter Education Course is required to hunt and to obtain a bowhunting privilege.

Register for an In-person, Instructor-Led NYS Bowhunter Education Course

You must register for in-person, instructor-led courses. Check back often, as new courses are added each week. Most courses are offered between March and September.

All in-person courses are free.

*Do not wait until just before the hunting season to take a class. In-person courses fill quickly, so it is important to sign up early.

All In-Person Bowhunter Education Courses require:

  1. The completion of homework prior to attending an in-person course. Proof of completed homework must be brought to the in-person course. The homework can take several hours to complete.
  2. Participation in an in-person course that is a minimum of 6 hours in length. These courses may be scheduled for one full day or split up into several shorter time frames over several days.

Register for an In-Person, Instructor-Led, Bowhunter Education Course

Register for a Bowhunter Education Course. You must attend the entire in-person instruction portion of the course on the date(s) and at the location indicated on the course schedule listing.

Homework and Study Materials

Choose one of the following ways to obtain the study materials and complete the required homework. You must bring the completed homework with you to an in-person course.

Note: If you completed the online bowhunter education course, you should bring your certificate to the in-person course as proof of completed homework. No additional homework is required.

Download /Print

Follow the link below to download a PDF of the Today's Bowhunter Manual.
You must print and complete the Bowhunter Education Homework Worksheet.

Today's Bowhunter Manual and print and complete the Bowhunter Education Homework Worksheet

You must bring the completed homework worksheet to your in-person course.

Hard Copy

The Today's Bowhunter Manual and Bowhunter Education Homework Worksheet can be picked up at most DEC Wildlife offices or may be available for pickup at other locations as specified in the instructions given when you register for a course.

To pick up course materials, find a DEC Wildlife Office near you.

You can also request a hard copy be mailed to you by calling 1-888-486-8332.

You must bring the completed homework worksheet to your in-person course.

General Course Details and Requirements

Course Topics Covered

  • Aspects that make bowhunting challenging
  • Becoming a more successful bowhunter
  • Tree stand safety
  • Bowhunting techniques
  • Hunter ethics
  • Hunter responsibility toward wildlife, the environment, landowners and the general public

Age Restriction/Requirement

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

Course Length

Minimum of 6 hours.

Bowhunter Education Certificate

Students must complete required homework, attend all sessions of the course, demonstrate proper attitude and safety, and pass a final exam of 40 questions. After successful completion of the course, students will receive a Bowhunter Education Certificate of Qualification, which is required in addition to a hunting license or hunter education certificate for purchasing a first-time bowhunting privilege in New York State.

Replace a lost certificate and out of state certificate requirements.

Online Bowhunter Education Course

You can complete all the requirements to earn a NYS bowhunter education certificate online. Any New York State resident 11 or older can take the online course. If you successfully complete the course, and pass the final exam, you will receive your NYS bowhunter education certificate. The cost of the course is $30. The course can be found on the bowhunter-ed website.

Trapper Education

A New York State Trapper Education Course is required to purchase a trapping license in New York and set traps to catch wild game. Topics covered include:

  • Trapping safety, techniques, ethics, and responsibilities
  • Techniques to avoid catching non-target species
  • Preparing pelts to produce marketable furs
  • Trapping laws and regulations

Two ways to earn a NYS Trapper Education Certificate

  • In-person, hands-on, instructor-led courses (recommended for younger students and those less familiar with traps and trapping)
  • Mail or email based home study course

In-Person Trapper Education Course

You must register for all in-person courses.

All in-person courses are free.

All in-person trapper education courses require:

  1. The completion of homework prior to attending an in-person course. Completed homework must be brought to the in-person course. The homework can take several hours to complete.
  2. Participation in an in-person course that is a minimum of 8 hours in length. These courses may be scheduled for one full day or split up into shorter time frames over several days.

Register for an in-person Trapper Education Course

Homework and Study Materials for In-Person Courses

Choose one of the following two ways to obtain the homework materials. You must bring the completed homework with you to the in-person course.

If you pass the course, you will receive your trapper education certificate at the end of the course.

Download/Print

Follow the link below to download a PDF of the Trapper Education Manual and the Trapper Education Homework Worksheet.

You must print the Trapper Education Homework Worksheet.

  • Trapper Education Manual (PDF)
  • Trapper Education Homework Worksheet (PDF)

You must bring the completed homework worksheet to your in-person course.

Hard Copy

The Trapper Education Manual and the Trapper Education Homework Worksheet can be picked up at most DEC Wildlife offices or may be available for pickup at other locations as specified in the instructions when you register for a course.

To pick up course materials, find a DEC Wildlife Office near you.

You can also request a hard copy be mailed to you by calling 1-888-486-8332.

You must bring the completed homework worksheet to your in-person course.

You should also read the Best Management Practices for Trapping - free series of handbooks for humane trapping tools and techniques on capturing furbearer species. A brief overview of best management practices for trapping is available in a 2-page Best Management Practices Humane Trapping Standards handout (PDF)

Home Study Trapper Education Course

You must be a NYS resident to take the home study trapper education course.

Note: If you pass the home study course, it could take 4-6 weeks for your certificate to be mailed to you. COVID-19 related office closings or staff shortages could cause a further delay of your certificate.

To take the home study trapper education course, you must:

  1. Send an email to [emailprotected] or call 1-888-486-8332 and provide the following information:
    • Full legal name of the person taking the course
    • Current mailing address
    • Name of the NY county you live in
    • Request the trapper education home study course
    • Indicate if you want the course materials:
      • Mailed to you (requires you to pay the postage needed to mail the completed course materials back), or
      • Emailed to you (requires you to have a printer and pay the postage to mail the completed course materials back)
  2. Complete the entire course on your own schedule and return all written assignments to the address provided in your course packet.
  3. If you pass the course, your certificate will be mailed to you in 4-6 weeks.

If you are certified through the home study course, you can still take an in-person course to get hands-on experience. You must register for an in-person course, but you can show the instructor your home study certificate in place of the required in-person course homework.

Age Restrictions/Requirements

There are no age restrictions to take the Trapper Education Course. The student must be able to complete the required homework and the in-person course, and pass the written test with no more help than having the test questions read to them if needed.
(Note: Anyone over the age of 12 must purchase a trapping license to trap in New York. Those under the age of 12 may assist a licensed trapper without possessing a trapping license, as long as the person they are assisting is their parent, legal guardian, or person age 18 or older designated in writing with at least 3 years of trapping experience.)

Trapper Education Certificate

Students who successfully pass a trapper education course will receive a Trapper Education Certificate of Qualification, which is required for purchasing a first-time trapping license in New York State.

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

Waterfowl Hunter Education

This course is required to get an access permit for select National Wildlife Refuges and state lands open to waterfowl hunting. While this course is not required for waterfowl hunting in general, it is recommended and of value to attend.

*This is a very challenging course that requires identification of ducks under field conditions.

*All Waterfowl Hunter Education courses require the completion of homework prior to attending the course.

*Waterfowl Hunter Education courses are added throughout the year. Most of the classes are taught between March and August.

*Do not wait until just before the hunting season to take a course. Courses fill quickly, so it is important to sign up early.

Register for a NYS Waterfowl Hunter Education Course

You can register for in-person, instructor-led courses. However, the number of courses offered may be limited. Check back often, as new courses may be added each week.

All Waterfowl Hunter Education Courses require:

  1. The completion of homework prior to attending an in-person course. Proof of completed homework must be brought to the in-person course. The homework can take several hours to complete.
  2. Participation in an in-person or course that is a minimum of 3 hours in length.

Register for a Waterfowl Hunter Education Course. You must attend the entire in-person instruction portion of the course on the date(s) and at the location indicated on the course schedule listing.

Homework and Study Materials

Choose one of the following two ways to obtain the study materials and complete the required homework. Whichever option you choose to complete the homework, you must bring the completed homework with you to an in-person course.

Download/Print

Print and complete the Waterfowl Education Homework Worksheet(PDF).

Refer to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Ducks at a Distance: A Waterfowl Identification Guide (PDF)Study the markings and characteristics of ducks to help you recognize birds on the wing while out in the field.

Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations

You must bring the completed homework worksheet to your in-person course.

Hard Copy

The Waterfowl Hunter Homework Worksheet, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Ducks at a Distance, and the Waterfowl Seasons and Information can be picked up at most DEC Wildlife offices or may be available for pick up at other locations as specified in the instructions given when you register for a course.

To pick up course materials, find a DEC Wildlife Office near you.

You can also request a hard copy be mailed to you by calling 1-888-486-8332.

You must bring the completed homework worksheet to your in-person course.

General Course Details and Requirements

Course Topics Covered

  • Key features when identifying birds in the field
  • Waterfowl hunting rules and regulations
  • Waterfowl hunter's responsibilities and ethics
  • Waterfowl hunting safety
  • Waterfowling ballistics

Age Restrictions/Requirements

None.

Course Length

Minimum of 3 hours.

Waterfowl Hunter Education Certificate

Students must complete required homework, attend all sessions of the course, demonstrate proper attitude and safety, and pass a final exam of 25 questions. After successful completion of the course, students will receive a Waterfowl Education Certificate of Qualification, which is required for accessing several National Wildlife Refuges and state lands open to waterfowl hunting.

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

Next Step Courses

Next Step are in-person, instructor-led courses for those who have already completed a hunter education, bowhunter education, or trapper education certification course and want more education and hands-on experience. Each four-hour course focuses on safety and techniques. There is no certification earned when you complete a Next Step course.

Next Step courses being offered this year are rifle, shotgun, crossbow, archery, fur handling, land trapping, and water trapping. Next Step courses are free, but registration is required. You will need your hunter education, bowhunter education, or trapper education certificate number to register. Since these are new courses, availability may be limited. Find a Next Step Course and Outdoor Recreation Event Registration information here (register-ed.com).

Crossbow Hunting Qualification

This page serves as the New York State online training course for crossbow hunting qualification and certification. This is not required if you have completed the Hunter Education Course and received a Hunter Education Certificate on or after April 1, 2014, and you carry that certificate with you while hunting.

Required Crossbow Hunting Qualification & Safety Training

How to complete the online crossbow training course:

  • Read and understand all information on this page.
  • Print the certificate at the bottom of the page.
  • Sign and date the certificate.
  • Carry the signed certificate and appropriate licenses with you while hunting.

Crossbow Safety Information

Before shooting your crossbow:

  • Read and thoroughly understand your crossbow owner's manual.
  • Inspect your equipment before every shooting session. Look for: arrow splintering or bending, separation of the bowstring serving, cracks or twists in the crossbow limbs, any loose bolts.
  • To better understand how an arrow functions and the skill required for hunting with an arrow, DEC recommends all crossbow hunters take a bowhunter education course
  • Apply bow wax to the length of the string/cables, except for the part right above the arrow rail, as it will gum up the trigger box. Lubricate the rail periodically.
  • Make sure your fingers are well away (below rail) from the path of the bow string and cables.
  • Make sure the crossbow limbs are free of obstructions before shooting.
  • Never carry a co*cked crossbow with an arrow in it while walking.
  • If hunting from a tree stand, always co*ck the crossbow on the ground before climbing into the stand.

While shooting your crossbow:

  • Never dry-fire a crossbow (co*ck and fire without an arrow securely placed on the rail).
  • Once seated and secured in the tree stand, pull up your unloaded crossbow with a haul line.
  • Do not place an arrow on the crossbow until you are safely secured in your stand.
  • Never use a co*cking device to un-co*ck a crossbow.
  • To un-co*ck a crossbow, shoot an arrow tipped with a field point into the soft ground or a target.
  • Always identify your target and the area beyond it before shooting.
  • To prevent wounding game, practice often and do not take shots at game that are beyond your effective range, generally less than 30-40 yards, similar to a modern compound bow.
Hunter Education Program Courses And Certifications (2024)

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