HARRISBURG - With small game seasons underway and big game seasons just around the corner, Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe said the agency is scheduling more basic Hunter-Trapper Education (HTE) courses for October and November so all new hunters can complete this mandatory course to be eligible to participate in the upcoming fall hunting seasons.
"Time is running out for those who have not yet passed a basic Hunter-Trapper Education course," Roe said. "Procrastination sometimes gets the better of us, but becoming certified through a basic Hunter-Trapper Education course is mandatory for all first-time license buyers, regardless of age.
"While we have been holding courses all summer, we have found that some people wait until autumn is officially here to begin making plans for the hunting seasons. To meet this need, we scheduled additional courses throughout the state, and they have been filling up fast. So now is the time to register for a course if you want to be eligible to hunt for the first time this season."
Roe noted that after the courses are completed in November, the agency won't begin a new slate of Hunter-Trapper Education classes until early in 2012.
To register for a course in your area, visit the Game Commission's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), clicking on the "Hunter Education Classes" icon in the center of the homepage and then clicking on either "Hunter-Trapper Education" or "Hunter-Trapper Education Independent Study."
With the support of thousands of volunteer instructors and organizations that host classes, HTE courses are being held throughout the state. There is no fee for the basic HTE course. Pre-registration is required and online registration is available for all courses offered by the agency.
Taught by dedicated teams of trained volunteers, most HTE classes last at least 10 hours over two or more days, and participants must attend all instruction before taking the 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 is available for those 11 years of age or older. The independent study course requires students to attend a two- to three-hour class to be tested and certified. Prior to this classroom test, however, students must study the entire course content on their own, which takes about eight to 10 hours to complete. Study guides are available online from the registration page or, to request a print version of "Today's Hunter & Trapper in Pennsylvania," call the Hunter-Trapper Education Division (717-787-7015) to request a study guide be mailed to you. There is a $1.59 postage fee for mailed study guides.
In 1959, the Game Commission began offering a voluntary hunter safety program, and about 25,000 students participated in that program annually. Beginning in 1969, the General Assembly required all first-time hunting license buyers under the age of 16 to successfully complete a four-hour hunter education course. The course requirement was expanded to six hours in 1977. The program became mandatory for all first-time hunting license buyers regardless of age in 1982.
Finally, in 1986, the safety program was increased to 10 hours of class time and trapper training was included. The name of the program also was changed to Hunter-Trapper Education, and was required for all first-time furtaker license buyers, too.
Since 1959, more than 1.8 million students have been certified through this course.