WDFW updates age for fully virtual hunter education; encourages early enrollment

News release Jun 21, 2022

Kris Thorson, 360-902-8410
Media Contact: Sam Montgomery, 360-688-0721

OLYMPIA — With the school year ending and summer vacations nearing, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) urges new, prospective hunters to complete hunter education now to make sure they can participate in fall hunting opportunities.

In response to COVID-19 and associated public health measures, WDFW implemented an all-online course during the past two years. On June 1, WDFW increased the minimum age to take that course from 9 to eighteen. Students under eighteen can complete the online course, but they must attend a field skills evaluation before they can become certified.

Traditional classroom courses are also available. There is no minimum age to take a course with an instructor-led component.

“Recognizing the importance and value of in-person and hands-on firearm safety instruction, our goal has always been to move back to, or towards, in-person course delivery when it made sense to do so” said Dave Whipple, WDFW hunter education division manager. "Our knowledgeable and passionate certified volunteer instructors are holding in-person classes, which are very effective at teaching and reinforcing important firearm and hunting safety principles, hunting ethics, basic survival and first aid, wildlife identification and conservation."

Hunters can find hunter education course information and 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 has approximately 1,000 certified volunteer instructors who love to teach, and typically teach more than 700 free hunter education courses each year.

People who want to learn more about hunting can visit WDFW’s Hunting Clinics page for how-to information or to sign up for a clinic or mentored hunt. Educational opportunities will be added as they become available.

WDFW works to preserve, protect, and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial 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.