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Hunter Education Deferral Successful

Class deferrals allow more flexible scheduling for college students and military personnel.

By Terry Erwin

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department began offering a new hunter education deferral program in September 2004. The program allows a person 17 or older, who has not completed a hunter education course, to defer completion until August 31 of that same license year. In the first year, more than 10,000 deferrals were sold at $10 each.

Hunters who are 17 or older are eligible to purchase a one-time deferral. A hunter with a deferral must be accompanied (within range of normal voice communication) by another licensed hunter 17 years of age or older who has: 1) completed hunter education, or 2) is otherwise exempt (born before September 2, 1971). Proof of certification or the deferral must be on a person while hunting. A person who has been convicted or has received deferred adjudication for violation of the mandatory hunter education requirement is prohibited from purchasing a deferral. Hunters who complete the course prior to the deferral’s expiration receive a $5 discount off the course fee.

The Texas hunter education effort began as a voluntary program in 1972 and became mandatory in 1988, requiring hunters born on or after September 2, 1971, to pass the course. Under the mandatory program, those under 17 can hunt in the presence of a licensed adult hunter or pass the course if they wish to hunt alone. A licensed adult hunter must accompany any hunter under 12.

More than 685,000 individuals have been certified in hunter education in the Lone Star State. The courses include a minimum of 10 hours of classroom time and hands-on activities over a minimum of two days. The classes can alternatively be taken through home study or online, followed by a one-day, hands-on hunter skills session. Most courses are taught by volunteer instructors, who are trained and certified by TPWD hunter education staff.

Hunting is markedly safer because of hunter education. Hunting incident rates have been cut in half since the 1950s and ’60s. All 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces require hunter education of some or all age groups hunting within their jurisdictions. Hunter education certification in Texas complies with other state and provincial requirements. Certification is also good for life.

Both student and instructor courses are scheduled throughout the year and throughout the state. For information, visit <www.tpwd.state.tx.us/edu> or call (800) 792-1112, ext. 4999.

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