The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is bringing back in-person instruction as an option for prospective hunters to take the required hunter education course. Until 2020, students were required to attend at least part of the course in person, prior to earning a hunting license; during the COVID-19 pandemic, the department shifted to an online-only instruction model. While in-person classes are being offered again, the online-only course will remain an option.
CDFW administers the Hunter Education Program along with managing nearly 1,000 volunteer hunter education instructors who conduct the actual instruction. The in-person portion of the instruction involves hands-on training, including safe handling of firearms, loading and unloading, storage, etc. Many in-person courses also include live-fire exercises at a shooting range.
There are now three formats available for earning a hunter education certificate.
Traditional: The traditional hunter education course is the same as it was pre-pandemic, consisting of a minimum of 10 hours of classroom instruction, homework, and field instruction. The traditional course allows for individual interaction with an instructor and is most often preferred by and recommended for first-time hunters. Traditional courses are offered in multiple languages throughout the state.
Hybrid: This option, which was offered prior to the pandemic, allows the student to complete the majority of the academic-based learning online. Once this is complete, the student attends a four-hour follow-up class which includes instructor lead review and hands-on training.
Online-only: The online-only certification course was implemented as a result of COVID-19 and will remain an option to earn hunter education certification.
Prospective hunters may go to https://wildlife.ca.gov/Hunter-Education for more information on how to sign up for a course.
To raise safety and conservation awareness, California’s first hunter education law was enacted in 1954. California requires hunter education training for those who have never held a California hunting license, who do not have a hunter education certificate, or who do not have a hunting license from another state or province issued within the past two years. In-person instructor-led courses are offered throughout the state by Hunter Education Instructors with an extensive track record of dedication to educating new hunters about firearm safety and handling, sportsmanship, and ethics, wildlife management, and conservation, archery, black powder firearms, wildlife identification, game care, first aid, and survival.