Those who plan to purchase their first hunting license this year will need to make plans to attend a hunter-trapper education course, and there's no time like the present to sign up, according to the state Game Commission.
To register for a course in your area, visit the commission's website at www.pgc.state.pa.us, and click on the "Hunter Education Classes" icon in the center of the homepage. From there, take either the basic "Hunter-Trapper Education" course, which is typically a six-hour course held over one or two days; or the "Hunter-Trapper Education Independent Study" course, which is a home-study course followed by a one-day, two-hour classroom review and test.
Once determining which course format best fits your schedule, you can register online by selecting a course in your area and then following the instructions.
"Now is the time to make sure that the first-time license buyer in your home is signed up to take the necessary first-step toward purchasing a license," said Game Commission Hunter Education and Outreach Division Chief Keith A. Snyder. "Don't wait until closer to fall, as courses will fill up quickly and may become hard to find. Check the website regularly for a class near you or that fits your schedule, and remember more will be added."
Snyder noted that scheduling the agency's annual slate of hunter-trapper education (HTE) classes always is an ongoing operation, based on the availability of instructors and facilities and the agency's ability to meet the growing demand for more classes in some counties.
"If you don't see a class being offered in your area, please continue to check the website as more classes are added to the Class Calendar," Snyder said. "Please know, though, that some areas have a limited number of classes that may be held at times that are inconvenient for you. Our limited number of instructors cannot always meet everyone's needs and wants. But they amazingly offer more than 900 classes annually."
More than 37,000 individuals took HTE courses throughout the state last year. There is no fee for the basic HTE course. Pre-registration is required and online registration is available for all courses through the Class Calendar.
Taught by dedicated teams of trained volunteer instructors, the basic HTE class has been reformatted into a six-hour course. Prior to arriving at their class, students are asked to review four chapters of their student manual, which is available online when you register. Participants must attend all instruction before taking a test at the end of the course. Youngsters must be at least 11 years old to receive HTE certification.
Successful completion of a basic Pennsylvania HTE class, or another state's equivalent course, is required by state law to obtain a first-time hunting or furtaker license, regardless of age.
Registrations also are being accepted for the independent study version of the basic HTE program, which also is available for those 11 years of age or older. A fee of $2.53 may apply if applicants order a printed copy of the study manual, or they can review the course materials online free of charge, and then attend the one-day, two-hour classroom review and test.
In addition, registrations are being accepted for other educational programs such as successful bowhunting, turkey hunting and furtaking and cable restraint certification.
The Successful Bowhunting course is a one-day voluntary training program for those seeking to expand their skills and knowledge of bowhunting. Although Pennsylvania doesn't require archers to complete a bowhunting education course before they purchase an archery license, certification for this course is required to bowhunt in some other states. There is a $20 course fee, which covers the cost of the online study course required before attending the class.
The Successful Turkey Hunting course is designed to provide the knowledge and skills needed to hunt safely and confidently in both spring and fall seasons. Veterans will learn methods and techniques that will help them become better hunters. Students will receive a 140-page student guide and a diaphragm turkey call as part of the program. Classes started this spring and continue through the summer and early fall. A $15 fee is being charged to offset costs.
Successful Furtaking is a one-day training program that provides extensive hands-on training to new and experienced furtakers. The course promotes Best Management Practices and is designed for any person seeking to learn more about furtaking and to improve his or her skills and success. The course includes the cable-restraint certification that is required to participate in Pennsylvania's cable-restraint season for foxes and coyotes. This course also fulfills the requirement that all first-time furtaker license buyers pass either a basic trapper education course or basic Pennsylvania HTE course. A $15 course fee is charged.
The Cable Restraint Certification course is required for those trappers seeking to participate in Pennsylvania's annual trapping season in which cable restraints are used to capture coyotes and foxes. The course fee is $15, and students will get to keep various education materials and one legal cable restraint provided as part of the course.
"We are planning to offer additional advanced courses in the future focusing on specific sporting arms and certain species-specific seasons, such as Successful Muzzleloading and Successful Deer Hunting," Snyder said. "We will be working with interested groups of sportsmen specializing in each of the areas to develop curriculum and solid hands-on training that will emphasize methods and techniques."
GAME COMMISSION RECRUITING HUNTER EDUCATION INSTRUCTORS
Experienced hunters and trappers encouraged to share their knowledge.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is looking for experienced hunters and trappers who are interested in becoming volunteer instructors for the agency's basic Hunter-Trapper Education (HTE), Successful Bowhunting, Successful Furtaking and the Successful Turkey Hunting courses, as well as future courses under consideration.
"Becoming a volunteer instructor for the Game Commission is one way to help new hunters and trappers understand the importance of safety afield and to pass along our outdoors heritage," said Keith Snyder, Game Commission Hunter Education and Outreach Division chief. "Becoming an instructor also is a fine way to help make a difference in your community and to do something to help improve the quality of our education and safety programs.
"If you're an experienced hunter or trapper, and want to give something back, I encourage you to become a certified instructor for one or all of the agency's education programs. Quality training is vital to ensuring these new, young hunters and trappers are both safe and responsible."
Persons who wish to become instructors should be knowledgeable, experienced hunters and trappers, and be willing to teach at least one class per year. Classes are held at a variety of locations, such as sportsmen's clubs, fire halls, schools and municipal buildings.
Instructors work with other volunteer instructors and wildlife conservation officers to plan and teach classes. Applicants need not be experts in every field of hunting and trapping. All teaching materials and detailed lesson plans are provided by the Game Commission.
All new instructors must have attended and completed a class, as a student, within 18 months prior to or after submitting their application. Also, applicants must pass a background check, assist with at least one student-level class and attend a new instructor training workshop before being certified.
For more information about becoming an instructor, visit the Game Commission's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) and select "Become an HTE Instructor" on the homepage. Individuals also can request an application packet online or by calling the agency's Hunter Education and Outreach Division at 717-787-7015.