The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is warning new St. Lawrence County hunters and trappers they must complete mandatory hunter, bowhunter or trapper education courses before obtaining an appropriate sporting license.
With state licenses now on sale, first-time hunters and trappers are encouraged to sign up for courses as they fill quickly. Each year, more than 45,000 New Yorkers take DEC's hunter and trapper education courses.
DEC works closely with thousands of dedicated DEC-certified instructors statewide to provide these training courses free of charge. Courses are offered for Hunter Education, Bowhunter Education, Trapper Education, and Waterfowl Hunter Education.
DEC's online registration system makes it easy to view a list of all available courses with the student's proximity to course locations. Students can register from any device - smartphone, tablet or computer - 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Courses are added continuously throughout the year, so those interested should regularly check the on-line system to find a local course. To locate a nearby hunter or trapper education course, visit DEC's website or contact a local DEC office for assistance.
All courses require students to review course materials and complete a homework sheet prior to attending the classroom and field session.
The homework portion of the course provides an introduction to the subject and enhances the students' understanding of the course material. Proof of the completed homework is required to attend the course. Students should register for the course well in advance of the course date in order to allow time to complete the homework requirement, which takes approximately three hours.
All courses will require successful completion of an in-person field day to earn certification for the course. Access to the homework materials and online homework options can be found on DEC's website or follow the guidelines listed in the various course announcements when you register for a particular course.
Actual course manuals and homework sheets are always available from DEC wildlife offices and sportsman education instructors.
Approximately 500,000 licensed hunters spend an estimated 10 to 15 million days afield each year. Reports on the number of hunting-related shooting incidents indicate that in 2016 only 13 hunting-related shooting incidents occurred - the lowest number on record since DEC began compiling hunting-related shooting statistics in 1958.
These low numbers are achieved through training and the regulations governing hunting activities in New York State. DEC's Sportsman Education Program is designed to teach and promote safe and effective hunting principles, practices and strategies.