Each year about 45,000 New Yorkers participate in the New York State DEC Hunter and Trapper Education courses which is required for all new Hunters planning to go afield each season. The NYS DEC is encouraging all new hunters for the 2018 season to register and take these courses now before they are full.

"DEC's hunter education program provides future sportsmen and sportswomen training about how to be safe, responsible and ethical hunters and trappers," said Commissioner Seggos. "We are grateful to the volunteer instructors who continue to provide their expertise and support to deliver this program. I encourage all prospective hunters and trappers to sign up for one of the hundreds of courses offered across New York State."

The DEC works with thousands of DEC-Certified instructors to provide these courses free of charge which cover Hunter Education, Bowhunter Education, Trapper Education, and Waterfowl Hunter Education.

Anyone planning on attending these courses must also do homework prior to attending the required courses. This homework includes reading manuals and completing worksheets either in hard copies that can be picked up at DEC offices or by taking online courses. Below is an outline of each course, with a link to the page where you can find course content, requirements, study materials, and find a course near you.

  • Hunter Education course is a minimum of 7 hours and you must be at least 11 years old to take this course. This course covers firearm and crossbow handling and safety techniques, history of firearms, knowledge of firearms and ammunition, proper gun handling and storage, marksmanship fundamentals, specific laws and regulations, principles of wildlife management and wildlife identification, outdoor safety, hunter ethics, and hunter responsibility toward wildlife, the environment, landowners, and the general public.
  • Bowhunter Education course is a minimum of 6 hours and you must be at least 11 years old to take this course. This course will cover aspects that make bowhunting challenging, becoming a more successful bowhunter, tree stand safety, bowhunter techniques, hunter ethics, and hunter responsibility toward wildlife, environment, landowners and the general public.
  • Trapper Education is a minimum of 8 hours and will include trapping safety and techniques, techniques to avoid catching non-targeted species, prepare pelts to produce marketable furs and laws and regulations of trapping. You must be at least 16 years old to take this course.
  • Waterfowl Hunter Education is a minimum of 3 hour course and there are no age restrictions. Course topics include key featured when identifying birds in the field, Waterfowl hunter's responsibilities and ethics, Waterfowl hunting safety, and Waterfowling ballistics.
  • There is also Crossbow Hunting Qualification which is an online training course for crossbow hunting qualification and certification. This is not necessary to take if you have completed the Hunter Education Course and received a hunter education certificate on or after April 1, 2014. For this certification, all information is outlined on the website which you must read and agree to, watch an informative video and then print and sign the certification which you will need to carry with you along with appropriate licenses while hunting.