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Hunter Safety

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Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975 must complete a hunter safety course before purchasing a hunting license. Children under age 16 may hunt with adult supervision without having to take a hunter safety course. Persons 16 and older who have not completed a hunter safety course can use a one-time Mentoring Exemption enabling them to purchase a license and hunt within the supervision of a mentoring adult who is at least 21 years old. Persons needing proof of course completion can print a duplicate certification card at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety.

Hunter safety course

It makes no difference if you want to learn more about hunting, or if you have been hunting for years, you will find taking a free hunter safety class to be interesting and rewarding. Not only does hunter safety training decrease hunting accidents and fatalities, but it also increases compliance with hunting laws, improves ethics and enhances the image of hunters, especially with the nonhunting public. The course is so popular that 93 percent of non-hunters and 89 percent of active hunters, support safety training as a requirement for accessing the privilege to hunt. So join us by signing up for a course at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety or contacting a hunter safety coordinator at an FWC regional office.

Everyone born on or after June 1, 1975 must pass an approved hunter safety course before purchasing a Florida hunting license. The course is structured for students between the ages of 12 and 16. Students are encouraged to take the course before turning 16 and to avoid the fall rush by completing the course in the spring or summer. Florida’s hunter safety course is accepted by all states requiring safe hunter certification. The FWC also offers a Bowhunter Safety Course for residents desiring to hunt in a state requiring bowhunter education certification. To learn more about these and other programs, visit us at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety.

Hunter Safety Deferral Mentoring Exemption

Anyone 16 years or older and born on or after June 1, 1975 can hunt for one season under the direct supervision of a licensed hunter, 21 or older, without having to complete the state’s hunter safety certification.

Individuals taking advantage of this try-before-you-buy approach must complete a hunter safety class to be eligible to purchase their next hunting license. Hunters with a deferral, who pass the hunter safety training class before their hunter safety deferral license expires, may hunt without a supervisor provided they have a copy of their hunter safety card with the deferral license.

Children and firearms—Florida law

Section 790.22 states as follows:

(3) A minor under 18 years of age cannot possess a firearm, other than an unloaded firearm at his or her home, unless:

(a) The minor is engaged in a lawful hunting activity and is at least 16 years of age; or under 16 years of age and supervised by an adult.

(b) The minor is engaged in a lawful marksmanship competition or practice or other lawful recreational shooting activity and is at least 16 years of age; or under 16 years of age and supervised by a parent or an adult who is acting with consent of minor’s parent or guardian.

(c) The firearm is unloaded and is being transported by the minor directly to or from an event authorized in paragraph (a) or paragraph (b).

(4)(a) Parents or guardians of a minor or other adults responsible for welfare of a minor who knowingly and willfully permit the minor to possess a firearm in violation of subsection (1) commit a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083 or s. 775.084.

Section 790.174 states in part as follows:

(1) Requires that firearms be locked and/or stored in a secure manner to prevent minors from gaining access to them without parental permission and adult supervision.

(3) As used in this act, the term “minor” means persons under age 16.

Youth Hunting Program

The FWC is seeking landowners, hunting clubs, volunteers and organizations to help grow the Youth Hunting Program of Florida. The program aims to provide quality hunting experiences for 12- to 17-year-olds to increase the number of youths involved in safe and responsible hunting.

Landowners and hunting clubs are needed to help host weekend youth hunts, while volunteers are needed to be trained as huntmasters, hunter safety instructors, cooks or guides. Organizations also are being solicited to help sponsor this innovative program.

While introducing Florida’s youth to the hunting tradition, the Youth Hunting Program also can benefit landowners by assisting them with their management of deer, hogs and other game species they want to control on their property. All the landowners or hunting clubs need to do is provide access to their land and the volunteers will do the rest.

If you are a landowner or hunting club wishing to donate a weekend youth hunt on your property, an individual who can volunteer time and expertise in planning and leading youth hunts or an organization that can help sponsor this unique program, contact Youth Hunting Program of Florida at 850-413-0084. For more information on how to get involved in Florida’s Youth Hunting Program, visit MyFWC.com/YHPF.

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This is not the full law. Consult the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for further details. All persons are reminded that the statutes, code and regulations are the legal authorities.
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