The seasons for the 2022-23 hunting year are drawing near and some preparation that may require attention sooner for hopeful hunters needs to be done between the ears.
Aspiring hunters, educate yourselves.
In general, everyone born on or after January 1, 1975 must have certification of completion of a hunter education course when hunting. Not to take anything for granted, Kentucky regulations require hunters to learn about firearm safety, hunter ethics, wildlife conservation and identification, care of game in the field, and the concepts of hunting. basics of archery and muzzleloader hunting.
Hunting is a rich and rewarding endeavor, but wildlife managers realize that someone isn’t being weaponized and is sent there. Whether or not someone has grown up with the traditions of hunting and the knowledge that should accompany it, the requirement of a course with the basics to ensure safe and ethical conduct keeps it better for all concerned.
January 1, 1975, today’s birth date, makes people age 47 and younger required to obtain a hunter education certification. Each year the percentage of certified participants increases as youth and other new hunters join the ranks. Officials with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources say it shows rewards, as hunting accident rates have gradually decreased over the years and hunters thus educated have increased.
Here’s the deal, though: You need to take steps early to get certified before hunting seasons begin.
Today, the most efficient way to educate yourself as a hunter is to take an accredited basic course online. That’s easily done through the KDFWR website, www.fw.ky.gov, by clicking “Education” on the home page, then a second click on “Hunter Education” on the next screen.
All the requirements, options, and how to sign up for and take an approved Hunter Ed course will be there.
One part of the course requirements that is not available online is the need to attend a follow-up “field day” in which participants must demonstrate acceptable handling of firearms in a target shooting exercise. Firearms and ammunition are provided, but one must register and attend an official field day through the website’s hunter education page.
A waiver to participate in a picnic is offered to military, veterans, and law enforcement personnel who have already received firearms training. See the website for more details.
In-person hunter education classes are held throughout the state, but a limitation in the number of instructors and lodging facilities means it can be challenging to get one of the limited seats in a class in the home area of a hunter in no time.
In far western Kentucky, a live hunter education class is scheduled from 9 am to 3 pm on October 1 at Paducah Shooters Supply. However, that class, including a rank day for those students, according to the last report, had less than half of the remaining 35 student openings. To enter this or any other class in person, register on the same hunter education web page.
To provide area range days for those completing online courses, Paducah Shooters Supply will host one of those 9:30-10:30 am on September 24, followed by 3:30-4:45 pm on October 1, online students can meet a range of day requirements along with those who take the course in person earlier in the day.
Children under the age of 12 may hunt without the need for a hunter education certification, however, each must be accompanied by an adult who can take control of their firearm or bow at all times while hunting. Also exempt from the need for certification are those who are also exempt from the need for hunting licenses: resident farmland owners, their family, and tenants who hunt on the same land.
Those who are required to be Hunter ed certified but allow all opportunities to be lost have one last option. The KDFWR offers a one-time temporary (one-year) Hunter Education Waiver Permit, available only online through the same Hunter Education webpage. Regardless of the age of those exempted through this permit, the hunter must still be accompanied by a qualified adult hunter for the benefit of supervision.
Currently, the hunter education exemption permit is available free of charge.
With the start of August, squirrel hunting season has kicked off in Illinois, and it follows soon after here in Kentucky.
Illinois’ long squirrel season kicked off with the new month, from August 1 to February 15. The small game with its opening in late summer is the first season in the traditional Illinois hunting year.
Kentucky’s so-called “fall” squirrel season, with a slight delay, is quite similar to neighboring Illinois. The Kentucky Squirrel Hunt begins as traditionally scheduled on the third Saturday in August, August 20 with this year’s calendar, and runs through February 28.
Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoor writer. Email outdoor news to [email protected] or call 270-575-8650.