Seasons for the 2022-23 hunting year are looming closer and one preparation that may require attention sooner for hopeful hunters must be made between the ears.
Would-be hunters, get yourselves schooled.
Generally, all those born on or after Jan. 1, 1975, are required to have certification from completion of a hunter education course when they go afield to hunt. Not to take anything for granted, Kentucky regulations call for hunters to be learned in firearms safety, hunter ethics, wildlife conservation and identification, field care of game, and basics of archery and muzzleloading hunting.
Hunting is a rich, rewarding endeavor, but wildlife managers realize that you don’t simply provide someone with weaponry and send them out there. Whether or not someone is raised with the traditions of hunting and the knowledge that should go with it, the requirement of a course with the basics to assure safe and ethical conduct keeps it better for all concerned.
The Jan. 1, 1975, birth cutoff nowadays makes folks 47 and younger obligated to get hunter education certification. Every year, the percentage of certified course-takers rises as youngsters and other new hunters add to the ranks. Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources officials say that shows rewards as hunting accident rates have gradually declined over the years that thus-educated hunters have increased.
Here’s the deal, however: You have to take steps in advance to be certified before hunting seasons ensue.
Nowadays, the most efficient way to get yourself hunter educated is to take a basic accredited course online. That’s easily done through the KDFWR website, www.fw.ky.gov, clicking on “Education” on the homepage, then a second click on “Hunter education” on the next screen.
All the requirements, options and the way to register for and take an approved hunter ed course will be right there.
One part of the course requirements that is not available online is the need to attend a follow-up “range day” in which participants must demonstrate an acceptable operation of firearms in a target shooting exercise. Firearms and ammunition are provided, but one must register for and attend an official range day through the website’s hunter education page.
An exemption on participating in a range day is offered to military, veteran and law enforcement personnel who already have undertaken firearms training. See the webpage for details.
In-person hunter education classes are held throughout the state, but a limitation on the number of instructors and hosting facilities means that it can be challenging to get one of the limited seats in a class in a hunter’s home area on short order.
In far western Kentucky, a live hunter ed class is scheduled 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Oct. 1 at Paducah Shooters Supply. Yet, that class, including a range day for those students, at last report had less than half of the 35 student openings remaining. To enter this or any other in-person class, register on the same hunter education webpage.
To provide area range days for those completing online courses, Paducah Shooters Supply will host one of those 9:30-10:30 a.m. Sept. 24, then from 3:30-4:45 p.m. on Oct. 1, online students can fill range day requirements along with those who take the in-person course earlier that day.
Kids younger than 12 can hunt without need of hunter ed certification, however, each must be accompanied by an adult who can take control of their firearm or bow at all times while hunting. Also exempted from the need of certification are those who also are exempted from needing hunting licenses — resident owners of farmland, their family and tenants hunting on that same land.
Those who are required to have hunter ed certification but allow all opportunities to fall through the cracks have one last option. The KDFWR offers a temporary (one-year), one-time hunter education exemption permit, available only online through the same hunter education webpage. Regardless of the age of the exempted through this permit, the hunter still must be accompanied by a qualified adult hunter for the benefit of oversight.
Presently, the hunter education exemption permit is available for free.
With the onset of August, squirrel hunting season has begun in Illinois, and it follows in short order here in Kentucky.
Illinois’ long-running squirrel season opened with the new month, running Aug. 1 all the way through Feb. 15. The small game pursuit with its late summer opening is the first season in Illinois’ traditional hunting year.
Kentucky’s so-called “fall” squirrel season, with a slight delay, is quite similar to that of neighboring Illinois. Kentucky squirrel hunting begins as traditionally scheduled on the third Saturday of August — Aug. 20 with this year’s calendar — and runs through Feb. 28.
Steve Vantreese is a freelance outdoors writer. Email outdoors news items to email@example.com or phone 270-575-8650.