Hunter Education in Texas: 2023-2024 Overview

Hunter Education Requirements

As of September 1, 2023, through August 31, 2024, Texas mandates hunter education certification for hunters born on or after September 2, 1971. The certification, which costs $15, is a crucial requirement for all hunters, including those visiting from out-of-state. It's important to carry proof of certification or a deferral while hunting, which can be presented electronically or in print. Notably, obtaining a hunting license does not necessitate hunter education certification. The certification process accommodates individuals as young as 9 years, with course availability both in-person and online, the latter varying in cost.

Specific Age-Related Rules

  1. Under 9 Years: Children under 9 must be accompanied by a licensed, educated adult.
  2. Ages 9 to 16: Must complete hunter education or be under the supervision of a qualified adult.
  3. 17 Years and Older: Required to complete hunter education or obtain a "Hunter Education Deferral" while being accompanied.

Military and Law Enforcement Exemptions

Active or honorably discharged members of the U.S. armed forces, Texas Army National Guard, Air National Guard, State Guard, or qualified peace officers are exempted from hunter education requirements.

Deferral Opportunities

Texas offers a one-time deferral for those 17 and older, allowing them to postpone hunter education for up to one year. This deferral, however, is not available to individuals convicted or given deferred adjudication for violating hunter education laws.

Bowhunter Education

Specific areas like the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge in Pottsboro require bowhunter education. It's crucial to note that bowhunter education is separate from standard hunter education and cannot be substituted for the latter.

Course Accessibility

For detailed course options and more information, individuals are encouraged to contact TPWD Hunter Education or utilize their toll-free number and website. Ensuring compliance with these regulations not only adheres to legal standards but also promotes safe and responsible hunting practices across Texas.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Important Facts about your Hunter Education certification

  • Certification is good for life.
  • Texas certification is honored by other states and provinces requiring hunter education.
  • You must carry proof of certification or deferral on your person while hunting.
  • Proof of certification is NOT required to purchase a license.
  • Acceptable proof can be printed certificate, hunting license #, TPWD App, or photo

Who needs to take Hunter Education?

Every hunter in Texas (including out-of-state hunters) born on or after Sept. 2, 1971, must complete hunter education. The minimum age for certification is 9 years and the cost is $15.

If you were born on or after September 2, 1971, and you are:

  • under 9 years of age, you must be accompanied*.
  • age 9 through 16, you must complete hunter education, OR you must be accompanied.
  • age 17 and over, you must complete hunter education; OR purchase a “Hunter Education Deferral,” and you must be accompanied.

What does "accompanied" mean?

Accompanied means: By a person who is at least 17, who is licensed to hunt in Texas, who has passed hunter education or is exempt (born before Sept. 2, 1971), and within normal voice control. Proof of certification or deferral is required to be on your person while hunting. Note: Proof of certification is not required to purchase a hunting license.

Do I qualify for a Hunter Education Deferral?

Any person 17 years of age or older who has not completed hunter education may defer completion for up to one year. A deferral may only be obtained once and is only valid until the end of the current license year. You must be accompanied while hunting if you have a deferral. Note: The one-time Hunter Education Deferral is available at license vendors and costs $10. A person convicted or has received deferred adjudication for violation of the mandatory hunter education requirement is prohibited from applying for a deferral.

I lost my certification card. How do I get a replacement? How do I update my info.?

You may now show proof of hunter education using your Texas Outdoor Annual mobile app or print a copy of your certification(Note: Failure to carry proof of certification or deferral while hunting is a Class C, Parks and Wildlife Code Misdemeanor which is punishable by a fine not less than $25 nor more than $500.)

To update the address on your certificate, hit the green UPDATE ADDRESS button where you print a copy of your certification.  To change a wrong date of birth or to update a last name, you will have to call 512-389-4999.

How long has this been law?

"Mandatory" hunter education became law in 1988. Since 1972, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department has offered hunter education courses that have certified over 1.5 million students.

How long is the course?

The Classroom Course is 6 hours of instruction, typically in schools/indoors, including some skill exercises, review, and final exams. The Internet + Field Course has two parts:  1) FREE INTERNET COURSE (Be a Safe Hunter, NRA or TPWD) completed beforehand, and 2) Field Course - 4 hours minimum.

There is also an Online-only Course that is restricted to persons who are 17 years of age or older. Online coursework varies from 2-4 hours depending on pre-knowledge, age, reading level, and other factors.

What does the course cover?

  • The Classroom Course covers the core standards in Firearm, Hunting and Outdoor Safety, Hunting Responsibilities, and Wildlife Conservation. Some classroom courses are extended to cover additional topics such as Bowhunting, Muzzleloaders, Outdoor Survival, and First Aid.
  • The Internet + Field Course covers the core standards plus more information delivered to you through several commercially available providers. The Field Course is comprised of hands-on skills and live-fire exercises provided to you by a certified instructor.
  • The Online-Only Course covers all the information included in the Internet + Field Course but is an option only available to those 17 years of age and older.

What is the cost of the course?

In-person classroom and field courses provided by hunter-education instructors cost $15. Note: Some instructors may charge additional fees associated with a shooting range or particular facility.

Fees for the Online-Only Courses vary (restricted to those 17 and older) and are set by the commercial providers who develop and gain accreditation (IHEA-USA) for such courses.

Can I fail this course?

Yes, you can fail the course because of unsatisfactory knowledge, skill, or attitude as evaluated by your instructor. The minimum score on the final exam is 75 percent. However, if you achieve a higher score, but are determined to lack safe skills in live-firing or field exercises, or as a result of classroom disruptions, attitude, or incomplete attendance, you may fail the course.

Do I need the Hunter Education Certificate to purchase a hunting license?

No, In Texas you are not required to show your certification when you purchase a license, but proof of certification or "deferral" is required to be on your person while hunting.  # on the license, printed HE certification card, and certification card/bar code captured on your mobile phone serve as satisfactory proof of hunter education, as does proof of hunter education on your Texas Outdoor Annual mobile app, but only in Texas. Other states may have different requirements; so be sure to carry a HE certification card.

I'm a bowhunter. Do I need the same certification?

Additional bowhunter education courses are available. This does not replace hunter education. Texas hunters who fall in the required age classes must complete Hunter Education regardless of the type of sporting arm used or species hunted. Bowhunter Education is mandatory in some states and provinces. Bowhunter education is offered in the classroom and Internet (Added Cost by Vendor) + Field Course (In-person - $15).

I am in the military/law enforcement. Does the law still apply to me?

Military/Law Enforcement Exemptions

Except as required by federal or local jurisdictions and/or private landowners, the following persons are exempt from requirements to complete a hunter education course to hunt in Texas:

I have a license to carry a concealed handgun. Do I still need the certification?

Yes, some of the safety training may be similar; however, Hunter Education includes many topics that are not part of handgun education. There are no exemptions from this requirement.

I took Hunter Education in another state. Do I still need to take the Texas course?

No, Texas recognizes Hunter Education certificates from all other states and provinces. You will need to carry proof of that certification on your person while hunting in Texas. We cannot duplicate Hunter Education certification from other states and provinces, you will need to contact the agency that regulates Hunter Education in that state.

I want to hunt out of state. Will my Texas Hunter Education certificate be recognized?

Yes, all states and provinces requiring hunter education recognize your Texas certification. You must carry your certification card with you as proof.

When I call the contact number listed, I get an answering machine. Why can't I talk to an instructor?

Hunter Education instructors are volunteers and many work regular jobs and may not be available when you try to contact them. Most list their home numbers as the contact. Try calling early in the evening after work or leave a message for them to call you back. Leave your name and a contact phone number. Leaving your name only on the message does not confirm your place in the class. 

TPWD Hunter Education phone number - 512-389-4999

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