Hunter Education Course – Time to Go

January 28, 2009 by  

By Doug Leier

This is a good time of year to sign up for a hunter education course

This is a good time of year to sign up for a hunter education course

January is the time to think about fall hunting.

No, I’m not falling ill with cabin fever and haven’t spent too much time in the ice shack without ventilation. I’m anxious about the beginning of spring snow goose hunting, but that’s not exactly what I’m getting at. My point in thinking about plans for hunts more than half a year away is to remind prospective hunters who will need a hunter education certificate this year to sign up for a class.

In North Dakota, hunter education classes are taught by more than 700 volunteer instructors, a great group always looking for new members (yes, that’s a hint). These instructors offer most classes through winter and into spring.

Now is a good time to plan for taking one of these classes, or enrolling a youngster. It’s easy. All it takes is a trip to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website at

The website has information on when and where classes are offered. On average, about 200 different communities in North Dakota will host one of 240 separate classes. Instructors in many smaller towns will only hold one course each year, so if you or someone you know will need hunter safety, check out the details now to make sure you don’t miss out.

Hunter safety education is important for establishing ethics and good practice

Hunter safety education is important for establishing ethics and good practice

The Game and Fish website has a comprehensive list of hunter education program offerings from Divide to Richland counties, which allows interested students to find all classes in and around their geographic location and also which courses might fit their schedule. Once you’ve found the best fit for the class, you can also sign-up online and check the status of the course.

For starters, anyone born after Dec. 31, 1961 who plans to hunt in North Dakota, resident or nonresident, needs to have taken and passed a certified hunter safety class. It’s plain and simple.

The goal is to put safe and educated hunters into the field. No exceptions. In fact, one of the more common questions is generated by people looking for age or occupation exemptions to the law. Current and former military personnel, police officers and adults often inquire whether their status qualifies for any exemption. The answer is a no. The law is straightforward.

It’s clear that North Dakota’s hunter education laws are working. Mandatory hunter education classes began in 1979. Since then, more than 150,000 people have taken the course in North Dakota. 

Here’s an important set of numbers. From 1953 to 1979, North Dakota had 85 fatal hunting incidents from. Since then, the number of fatal hunting incidents is 13. Only six fatalities have occurred since 1985. That’s still too many, but it’s a marked reduction from what had occurred in the past.

Preliminary numbers from this past hunting season indicate 11 incidents –a little less than average – without a fatality.

Another statistic that stands out is class participation. About 30 percent are adults, and 34 percent are women. Hunter education is for hunters of any and all ages. When I assist with local hunter education courses, I find myself learning along with students and instructors alike.


Those who suggest they know all about gun safety through prior training or experience will also find the comprehensive course includes gun safety, but also wildlife management concepts, biology and the ethical and moral aspects of becoming a well-rounded hunter

One last reminder, the entire continent is part of a reciprocal hunter education agreement. Basically, accredited courses in any state are accepted in other states, but some states have different age requirements. If you’re planning to travel out of state to hunt, make sure to check the other state’s requirements.

Plain and simple, hunter education is saving lives and making the outdoors a safer venue for all. The thousands of safe hunters across the prairie would not want to jeopardize those statistics, and there is a degree of comfort in knowing that most hunters in the field have been through the curriculum meeting standards from the International Hunter Education Association.


5 Comments on "Hunter Education Course – Time to Go"

  1. Melisa on Thu, 17th Jun 2010 4:25 pm 

    Is there any hunter saftey courses going on this summer? I need to get my son into a class before the deer season.

  2. Brian LeClair on Fri, 22nd Oct 2010 7:24 pm 

    I have hunted in south dakota every year since 1984, I’m 38 now. I moved to north dakota this spring and now find out I have to take a hunter safety course here to hunt. I’ll probably have to buy 5 nonresident licenses in south dakota to avoid missing a hunting season. Anger & hatred has permeated my entire being. This country is worse by the day!

  3. Dixie on Thu, 24th Mar 2011 1:53 pm 

    I just wanted to say that I am an instructor for the Kansas City, Kansas Hunter’s Education Courses. There are twelve courses. Eight on your first day, from 7 or 8 in the morning to 3 or 4 in the afternoon. You must fill out a card when you enter or have it filled out already, then hand it to the instructors or secretaries and they will place you a class. The secretaries will also hand you a brochure or magazine to go over before class begins. The second day, which starts around 10 in the morning to about 2 in the afternoon, then you take a written test of about 80-100 questions. When you are done, take your test to an instructor or somebody in charge of the tests. They will grade it and you can only miss 5 to 7 questions. If you miss more, then you can take the courses the following year and try to get a better grade. If you do pass, they will give you an iron-on patch and hand your test back for keeps and you will able to hunt because you know that you passed the Hunter’s Safety Courses. Enjoy hunting!!

  4. Dixie on Thu, 24th Mar 2011 1:55 pm 

    Classes start on the second or third weekend of September at Wyandotte County Lake at the Archery Range.

  5. Kyle on Sun, 23rd Oct 2011 5:15 pm 

    hi and i want to know when and where in north dakota does hunter saftey start thanks

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