WDFW encourages hunter education to prepare for spring turkey season

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Kris Thorson, 360-902-8410

Sam Montgomery, 360-688-0721

OLYMPIA — With the spring turkey season set to begin April 15, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) urges new, prospective hunters to complete hunter education now to participate in 2021 hunting opportunities.

"While other major hunting seasons don't open until September, now is a great time to complete hunter education so you can participate in the engaging spring turkey season," said David Whipple, WDFW hunter education division manager. “Spring turkey season is an excellent way to introduce a new hunter to the hunting tradition and give them a solid chance at having a successful harvest.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, WDFW is offering an online course for students at least nine years old. Students under nine can complete the online course, but they must attend a field skills evaluation before they can become certified. Because certified volunteer instructors cannot yet hold in-person classes, WDFW has very limited ability to provide field skills evaluations for students under nine.

As with in-person hunter education classes, successful completion of the course is only the beginning of a hunter’s learning journey.

“While we know there is value in in-person learning and we are preparing for the day when we can meet in-person again, COVID-19 restrictions required us to change to an all online course to ensure the vast majority of Washingtonians could complete hunter education,” said Whipple.

According to Whipple, because hunter education courses cover firearm and hunting safety, basic wildlife conservation, ethics, and more, they are one of the primary methods the department uses to help hunters stay safe and ensure they are familiar with rules that protect public safety and maintain healthy wildlife populations.

Hunters can find hunter education course information, as well as valuable short video resources to reinforce safety practices for new hunters, on WDFW's website. Experienced hunters who have never taken a hunter education class may also find them valuable.

All hunters born after Jan. 1, 1972 must complete a hunter education course to buy a hunting license. The hunter education deferral is another option for students 10 and up who want to try hunting before completing a hunter education course. The deferral allows a person to go hunting with an experienced hunter for one year before completing hunter education.

WDFW staff are also looking forward to offering hunting clinics and mentored hunts in the future. Hunters can check WDFW’s website for information on hunting different game species and  upcoming clinics.

WDFW is the primary state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing and hunting opportunities.

Individuals who need to receive this information in an alternative format, language, or who need reasonable accommodations to participate in WDFW-sponsored public meetings or other activities may contact the Title VI/ADA Compliance Coordinator by phone at 360-902-2349, TTY (711), or email (Title6@dfw.wa.gov). For more information, see https://wdfw.wa.gov/accessibility/requests-accommodation.