This is a time of year when hunting seasons can creep up on hunters or would-be hunters and catch them unprepared.
True, we’re not even officially halfway into summer yet. Yet, the first of Kentucky’s “fall” hunting seasons begins in a scant three days. That is the traditional fall squirrel hunting season, which begins as is usual on the third Saturday of August.
After that first opening day, other seasons sort of slip in with a succession: Mourning doves, early crow, rail, gallinule and falconry on Sept. 1. And then on Sept. 5 come the beginning of archery deer and turkey hunting and the senior and youth crossbow deer seasons.
Others ensue as the calendar wears through September, then October and beyond.
There is equipment and licenses to obtain. But for a certain set of folks, something that is not quite as readily remedied with a stop at a single sporting goods or big box score, is the need of hunter education credentials.
Normally — if there is such thing as normal anymore — one might be checking out the schedule of Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources-sponsored free hunter education courses around the state. Attending one of these series of classwork sessions and firing range day is the typical course to obtaining safe hunter certification.
In Kentucky, those born on or after Jan. 1, 1975, are required to have certification of having successfully completed an approved hunter education course. The exceptions are kids under 12 (who must be accompanied and overseen in the field by an adult) and those like farmland residents and tenants hunting on the land where they live, who also are exempted from having a hunting license.
But in these days of social distancing because of pandemic precautions, there are no hunter education classes presently being held. Fortunately, those that need hunter ed study can get it online at the KDFWR website, fw.ky.gov, clicking on the home page header of “Education,” then “Hunter education.”
Just as no classroom studies are scheduled, no firing range sessions are being held. However, the KDFWR allows for that, directing those taking hunter education studies online to also arrange their own live firing experiences and make a video of these. The video is then uploaded so hunter ed instructors can verify the student’s participation.
The course options and all the details toward earning certification are waiting on the webpage.
There are three sites from which to choose to take the hunter education course: hunteredcourse.com, the cost for which is $19.50; hunter-ed.com, costing $28.95; and nra.yourlearningportal.com, which is free.
If hunting seasons get here and the hunter education certification is still lacking, there is one other short-term alternative. The KDFWR provides a hunter education exemption permit, sold via the website for $5.
The exemption is good for one year and can be purchased only once. Subsequent years will require the regular hunter education certification.
Meanwhile, anyone hunting with a hunter ed exemption permit must be accompanied in the field by an adult who is a licensed hunter who must stay in position to take control of the exempted hunter’s gun or bow.
Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoors writer. Email outdoors news items to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 270-575-8650.