New hunters of all ages are reminded that it is never too early to think about taking a Basic Hunter Education Course. First-time license buyers in Massachusetts are required to show proof that they have taken a basic hunter education course in order to purchase a hunting or sporting license. Basic courses are available across the state from January through October and early November and are periodically updated atwww.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/education/hed/hed_basic_listing.htm. Want early notification of a course? Provide your name and contact information on a form at www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/education/hed/hed_find_course.htmand you will be notified when a course is offered in your area before the course is posted on line.

“Many people don’t think about enrolling in a course until September,” says Susan Langlois, DFW Hunter Education Administrator. “Unfortunately, most courses have either begun or are fully enrolled and the opportunity to hunt during the fall may disappear.” Langlois points out that courses are scheduled through much of the calendar year, including the summer, but most are offered in the spring and early fall. Basic hunter education courses average 15 hours in length and are taught by volunteer instructors. Courses are offered in several formats including some that are scheduled over five or six weekday evenings. Some are conducted on weekends while other courses are a combination of weeknights and weekend days. Students must attend all scheduled sessions as part of the requirement for passing the course. All instruction and class materials are provided at no charge to the student. “Today’s hunters are better educated than ever before,” said Langlois. “Completion of the Massachusetts’ Hunter Education program coupled with mandatory use of blaze-orange clothing contributes to the reduction of hunting related incidents and firearms accidents in the field.”

Massachusetts offered its first hunter safety course in 1954, and to date has graduated more than 180,000 students. Topics covered during the course include general knowledge of firearms, safe handling and storage of hunting arms and ammunition, hunting laws and ethics, wildlife identification, wildlife management, care and handling of game, basic survival skills and first aid. Students who successfully pass the course receive a Certificate of Completion that is accepted for purchasing a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license and for Massachusetts residents 15 years old and over to apply for a firearm’s license with their local police departments. The certificates are also accepted for the purchase of a hunting or sporting license in all U.S. states, Canada, and Mexico. Lost your certificate from years past? You may obtain a Duplicate Certificate from the Hunter Education Program by filling out a form at www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/education/hed/hed_duplicates.htm or by contacting the office directly at (978) 772-0693.

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