Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

July 30, 2020
Hunter education training during the COVID-19 pandemic

In-person courses cancelled, only online courses and ‘Trial Hunting’ program offered 

Potential hunters for this fall that were born after Dec. 31, 1965 must complete either an in-person hunter education course or the Department of Wildlife Resources’ online Trial Hunting Program, according to the DWR.

DWR encourages potential hunters to sign up for courses soon, because they fill up fast, according to a press release from the DWR.

“If you are interested in trying hunting for the first time this fall, you’ll need to look into either taking a hunter education class or participating in the Trial Hunting Program,” said DWR in their press release. “If you’ve never taken hunter education, rest assured that it isn’t too late; but don’t put it off because classes fill up quickly!”

January and February are the most popular months for hunter education courses, so people can apply for the big game hunt drawing. The next-busiest months are July and August, right before the fall general-season big game hunts, according to the DWR. 

Typically, new hunters have the option of taking a traditional in-person class led by an instructor or an online course followed by a field day. 

However, this year, due to COVID-19, the DWR has temporarily postponed all instructor-led, in-person courses until further notice, and is just offering online courses. 

The field day exercise is also temporarily being offered virtually this year, although some small, field-day exercises are still being offered in person, according to the DWR.

The online course teaches about firearm safety, hunter responsibility and ethics. It can be taken at the student’s own pace. 

There are a few options for online courses. They range in price from $13 to $29, links to the approved courses at the bottom of the DWR website at https://wildlife.utah.gov.

“If you have a young child who’s taking the course, you can help them understand what they’re learning by sitting by their side and going through the course material with them,” said RaLynne Takeda, hunter education program manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. “Your child can also take the course at his or her own speed. And they can go back and review the material as often as they like.”

The instructor will provide additional details about either field-day option, in person or virtual, after the student registers for the online hunter education course. 

Once the online portion of the course is finished, course participants can print their proof of completion document.  

Then, a hunter education registration certificate may be purchased online. They are $10 and are required before the field day. 

For students who choose the virtual field day option, they will complete the online virtual field day and then print the completion voucher and send it to the instructor. 

The students can then complete a live-fire exercise with a parent, guardian or other mentor, who must be an adult who is over 21 and is also a hunter education graduate. 

The student and mentor will record the live-fire exercise and send the video to the instructor with a photo of the target. The instructor will review and evaluate the video based on safe firearm-handling principles. Then, students will be given the final written exam for the hunter education course online.

Utah’s Trial Hunting Program is another way to get in the field this fall. The program gives students a chance to try hunting with an experienced hunter and see if it is something they would like to pursue. Students are not required to take hunter education to participate in this program.

Students must be at least 12 years old to join the program. They need to be accompanied by a licensed hunter who is 21 or older. 

To participate, students must complete a brief online orientation course, which can be found on the DWR website. 

Students also need to buy a hunting license and the permit for the species you’d like to hunt. In this program, you are eligible to obtain the following licenses and permits: a combination or hunting licenses, good for hunting all small game, including upland game and waterfowl; general-season deer and elk permits and permits to hunt bear, cougar, sage-grouse, sandhill crane, sharp-tailed grouse, swan and turkey.

“Both of these are great ways to get started in hunting, a sport that not only allows you to get fresh, locally-sourced meat, but also gives you a unique opportunity to get outdoors,” Takeda said.

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