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Dates open for hunter safety classes

January 8 was the official end date for archery deer, pheasant, grouse, partridge and turkey seasons in North Dakota.

Just one month after that comes the application deadline for a 2017 spring turkey license, followed closely by the spring snow goose opener. What makes those dates somewhat significant, beyond putting them on your calendar, is that there’s a whole new crop of up and coming hunters who will need to pass a hunter education course in order to hunt those or other species in North Dakota in 2017.

State law requires anyone born after Dec. 31, 1961, to pass a certified hunter education course to hunt in the state once they’ve reached their 12th birthday. So, anyone who turns 12 this year, needs to have taken the class by their birthday to get a valid hunting license.

Youngsters who are age 11 and younger can hunt small game in the state under parental supervision without hunter education, but once they turn 12, certification is required. Students have to be at least 11 years old to take the class.

Since 1979 when the state Legislature established hunter education requirements in North Dakota, more than 200,000 boys, girls, men and women have taken a course to create a safer hunting environment for all. It’s a comprehensive course that includes wildlife management concepts, biology and the ethical and moral aspects of becoming a well-rounded hunter, in addition to hands-on exercises that reinforce safe handling of firearms.

Any parent who has a qualifying child, or adults who want to hunt but did not take the course when they were younger, should have hunter education on their radar screen now, as the North Dakota Game and Fish Department is starting to post dates for classes around the state.

That means over the coming months about 200 different communities in North Dakota will host one of nearly 240 different hunter education classes. Individuals or parents with children who will need to take a course in 2017 should monitor the North Dakota Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov.

Most classes typically are held between January and May, and many smaller communities have only one class per year, so it’s a good idea to start checking now.  

How to apply

On the Game and Fish website, access the Buy and Apply link, and scroll down to find the hunter ed enrollment link, then go to the “list of hunter education courses.” Classes are listed by city and also can be sorted by start date. To register for a class, click on “enroll” next to the specific class, and follow the simple instructions. Personal information is required.

Individuals interested in receiving a notice by email when a new hunter education class is added can click on the “subscribe to news and alerts” link found below the news section on the Game and Fish home page. Check the box labeled “hunter education” under the education program updates.

In addition, SMS text notifications of new classes can be sent directly to a cellphone. Simply text “NDGF HunterClass” to 468311 to subscribe to this feature.

Classes are taught by volunteers across the state and in some areas also may be available during the late summer and fall, depending on instructor availability. For more information, contact the Game and Fish Department’s hunter education staff at (701) 328-6615 or email huntered@nd.gov. His blog is at dougleier.areavoices.com

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