Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Hunter Education Course offered by the Wildlife Achievement Chapter - IWLA (Damascus)

Q: Is the course open to the public?

A: Yes. By law, all Hunter Ed courses anywhere in the state must be open to the public.

Q: What is the age limit for taking the course and then getting a hunting license?

A: In Maryland, there is no age limit for either taking the course or purchasing a hunting license. As a practical matter, we have found that success in passing the course is almost entirely related to the student's maturity, discipline, and motivation. Also, a student's reading and study skills must be sufficient for him/her to read and understand a fair amount of material and then pass a 50 question multiple choice exam with a score of 80 percent or better. Additionally, the student must physically demonstrate safe firearm handling during the field exercise and during the live fire exercises at the various shooting ranges. On a personal note, my daughter was 10 years old when she took the course and passed. Prospective hunters under age 16 must have written permission and be accompanied by a parent or guardian when purchasing their Maryland hunting license. Of course, any junior hunter in the field should be accompanied by a licensed adult. Many states do have age limits for purchasing a hunting license and you should check the applicable state's hunting laws. One web site I have found that has a directory of all state hunting laws is: http://www.walleyehunter.com/dnrmap.html

Q: Your course schedule does not fit my schedule. What other options are available?

A: Students with schedule conflicts should check the Maryland Department of Natural resources (DNR) web site at: http://dnrweb.dnr.state.md.us/nrp/huntingclass.html for the state-wide listing of Hunter Ed course offerings and schedules to find one that will fit their schedule. Note that the DNR site also offers a self-study option (with field work to be performed with certified Hunter Ed instructors).

Q: When should I take the course?

A: Prospective students should not procrastinate until the last opportunity of the year to take the course. This is because the last course of the year always fills to capacity early and we have to turn prospective students away due to class size limits. At Damascus IWLA, we have traditionally offered the course three times during the fall of each year: once in September, again in October, and the last offering in November. The September and October classes NEVER fill to capacity. The November course is ALWAYS filled to capacity. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL NOVEMBER. Another advantage of taking the earlier course dates is, if the student fails to pass the test, the student may repeat the course the next month. If the student fails the November course, there is no way to re-take the course until the next year.

Q: What is the course duration and format?

A: At our chapter, the course is broken down into 3 sessions (other sponsoring organizations offer the course on different schedules). We meet on two consecutive Friday nights from 7 until 10:15 PM and one Saturday from 9 AM until about 1:30 PM. The Friday sessions are all classroom work with course material presentation by our teaching team. Saturday is the written exam, field work, and shooting range portion. All parts of the course must be completed, no exceptions are allowed for any reason.

Q: Does an adult have to accompany a young student in the course?

A: Children 14 and under must be accompanied by an adult during the course. The adult does not have to take the course and it does not have to be the same adult for each class session.

Q: You mentioned a shooting range portion of the course. Is that a shooting proficiency test?

A: No. It is a safety demonstration on the part of the student. Shooting proficiency (marksmanship) while important in hunting, is beyond the scope of the course and is not considered in the students evaluation. However, it is strongly suggested that any prospective hunter become involved in a shooting club that offers marksmanship and competitive shooting training. There are many organizations in the state that offer this or can assist you in finding such a group, especially for juniors. Among them are: various chapters of the Izaak Walton League (including our chapter), the Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association (see their web site), various local shooting/hunting clubs, some commercial shooting ranges, the National Rifle Association, county 4-H programs, Jaycees, American Legion, and some high school ROTC programs.

Q: What if I fail the course?

A: Students may repeat the course the next time it is offered. Historically, about 10 percent of the students fail to pass the course the first time they take it. This is not a problem if you take the course in September or October because you can repeat the course the next month. However, if you fail the November course (our last course offering of the year), you will not be able to repeat the course until the next year. That means you miss the hunting season for the year.

Q: Is there a fee?

A: Yes. The course fee is presently $2 per student to defray our materials costs.

Q: What course materials are provided?

A: All course materials are provided.

Q: Do I bring my own firearm to the class?

A: Absolutely not. Students are prohibited by state regulation from bringing any firearm to the course and may be dismissed from the course for doing so. Firearms used for the course are primarily provided by the instructors from among their personally owned arms. Please treat their property with care and respect as their sharing the use of their firearms is totally voluntary and for the students benefit.

Q: Is the Hunter Ed certification card I receive after passing the course my hunting license?

A: No. The Certification card the student receives at the successful completion of the course shows that you have received the training required to allow you to purchase a hunting license.

Q: What if I lose my Hunter Ed certification card?

A: You must call DNR for a replacement. You must be able to tell DNR when and where you took the course, and preferably, your certification card number. Allow several weeks for a replacement to be mailed to you. Lost certification cards are a headache for the individual involved and also the personnel at the issuing state's regulatory agency. The best thing to do is keep several copies of your card, in different locations, such as gun safe, ammo locker, with your hunting gear and maps, etc., so that you can refer to it when requesting a replacement card from DNR. If you are unable to provide sufficient information to DNR to satisfy their requirements for issuing a replacement card, you will have to repeat the Hunter Ed course. At every course we offer, there are several hunters repeating the course because they lost their certification card.

Q: If I move to another state or desire to hunt in another state, do I have to take that states Hunter Ed course?

A: No. The Hunter Ed certification you receive has reciprocity in every state of Mexico and the USA, and every province of Canada. You do not have to take the course again. Be advised that there are a few confused clerks at some stores where hunting licenses are sold who think you must have a Maryland certification to hunt in Maryland. That is incorrect. Any states certification is recognized by any other state.

Q: I have been hunting for decades--since before there was a mandatory Hunter Education requirement. Since I am "grand fathered" with respect to having to take the course, why should I take it now?

A: Many states now require out-of-state (non-resident) hunters to possess a Hunter Ed course certification in order to purchase a non-resident license, regardless of prior experience or "grand fathering". In fact, one western state where I have personally hunted requires non-resident hunters to carry their Hunter Ed certification card on their person when they are afield. Additionally, most, if not all, special, managed deer hunts conducted in normally closed areas and/or parks require that you have a Hunter Ed certification card.

Q: I am a professional law enforcement officer or member of the military with extensive training with firearms. Do I have to take the Hunter Ed course?

A: Yes. Maryland law (and most, if not all, other states) has no provision for granting exceptions to the Hunter Ed requirement. This is partly because of the differences in training that can exist and the fact that hunting laws and other hunting related topics differ significantly from those related to other firearms training issues. The Hunter Ed course taught by our teaching team is a nationally adopted course, with uniform course content regardless of where it is offered in the USA, Mexico, or Canada.

Q: Why don't you offer the course at other times than the ones already scheduled?

A: Our teaching team, like all the others in the state, is composed entirely of volunteer instructors. As such, we must schedule the classes at a time when the volunteer instructors agree to be available, and, when the facility we use to teach the course is available for our use.

Q: I cannot attend one of the classroom sessions of the course, can I be granted a waiver for the missed course work?

A: No. State law specifies that each student must attend the entire course. No exceptions may be granted.

Q: I hold a hunting license and hunter certification from a foreign country that has much more stringent requirements for obtaining a hunting license than your course requirements. Can I be granted a waiver from the course?

A: No. There is no provision for such an exception in the state law. As a practical matter, it is unreasonable for a volunteer organization to be able to evaluate the curriculum and requirements of a foreign course and decide if it is equivalent to what the State requires. Aside from that, the hunting laws and related issues in other countries can be widely different from here.

Q: My schedule does not permit me to attend all of the class sessions for the course at your facility. Can I attend some of the class sessions at a different club to make up for the missed material?

A: No. The Hunter Ed course is team taught with different instructors teaching a different topic. These topics can be taught in almost any order. In our classes, the order of the topics varies from month to month because of differing schedule availability of the instructors who teach a given topic. Thus, there is no practical way to assure that the student would receive instruction in all the topics of the course.

Q: Your course schedule does not fit my schedule. Can you offer a private course to fit my schedule?

A: No. Maryland law requires all Hunter Ed courses to be team taught and open to the public. Private course offerings are prohibited.

Q: What kind of shooting is done as part of the course?

A: Every student must demonstrate he/she can safely shoot a .22 rimfire rifle at a paper target from a bench supported position. Also, each student will shoot a 20 ga. shotgun at clay birds. Additionally, if resources permit, each student will shoot a bow at a paper target.

Geoff Hornseth
Chief Instructor
Hunter Education program
Wildlife Achievement Chapter-IWLA (Damascus)
June 2006