Training in Safe Handling of Firearms and Hunting Ethics Required before Purchasing a Hunting License

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today reminded all new hunters and trappers planning to go afield this season that they must first complete a mandatory hunter, bowhunter, or trapper education course before obtaining the appropriate sporting license or hunting privilege. In-person, instructor-led hunter education courses are being offered throughout New York during September and October.  Bowhunter education, trapper education, and waterfowl hunter education courses are also available, and all in-person courses are free and offer hands-on experience.

“DEC’s Hunter Education Program has a long and proud tradition of training new hunters and trappers annually, creating safe hunting opportunities for more than half a million New York sportsmen and sportswomen,” said Commissioner Seggos. “Since 1949, DEC has worked closely with certified volunteer instructors to teach new outdoor enthusiasts how to be safe, responsible, and ethical hunters and trappers. As a result, hunting continues to be a safe and enjoyable sport, and we thank the dedicated volunteer instructors who provide their expertise and support to deliver this important program. I encourage all prospective hunters and trappers to sign up for one of the dozens of courses offered across New York State.”

With hunting licenses now on sale, first-time hunters and trappers are encouraged to sign up for certification courses soon to reserve a spot, as these courses can fill quickly. Each year, thousands of New Yorkers take DEC’s hunter and trapper education courses.  DEC’s online registration system makes it easy to view a list of all available courses. To locate a hunter or trapper education course, visit DEC’s website or contact a local DEC office for assistance.

All in-person courses require students to review course materials and complete homework prior to attending the classroom and field session. The homework portion of the course introduces the subject and enhances understanding of the course material. Proof of the completed homework is required to attend the in-person part of the course. Students should register for the course well in advance of the course date to allow time to complete the homework requirement, which takes approximately three hours. All in-person courses will require the successful completion of an in-person field day to earn certification for the course.

The homework materials can be found on DEC’s website. Students may also follow the guidelines listed in the course announcement when registering for a course. For those with restricted access to the internet, course manuals and homework sheets are always available from DEC wildlife offices and Hunter Education Program instructors.

Education Courses Produce Hunter Safety Results

New York’s hunter education courses are highly effective in fostering safe hunters. Approximately 500,000 licensed hunters spend an estimated 10 to 15 million days afield each year. Reports on the number of hunting-related shooting incidents indicate that the 2021 hunting seasons in New York were the safest ever, with the lowest number of hunting-related shooting incidents since record-keeping began. DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers investigated nine hunting-related shooting incidents in 2021, including one fatality, the lowest number on record since DEC began compiling hunting-related shooting statistics in 1958. These low numbers are achieved through training and the regulations governing hunting activities in New York State.

DEC’s Hunter Education Program is designed to teach and promote safe and effective hunting principles, practices and strategies. More information about DEC’s Hunter Education Program can be found on DEC’s website.

New Gun Safety Requirements

New York State recently adopted new requirements for the purchase and transfer of ownership of semi-automatic rifles and the purchase, possession, storage, and transport of firearms and ammunition in New York. See DEC’s Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Recent Changes to New York State Firearm Laws and additional detail and further guidance, Questions, and Answers Regarding Impacts to Hunting and Hunting-Related Activities from Recent Changes to New York State Firearm Laws, on DEC’s hunting website. More information about gun safety in New York State can be found on the NYS Gun Safety website.