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Hunter Education

Hunting Regulations Icon Virginia Hunting

Mandatory Hunter Education

Hunter Education courses provide instruction in hunter safety, principles of conservation, and sportsmanship. There are two options for completing Hunter Education–Classroom and Full Online Courses.

Classroom Course

Section 1 – Self-study.

Each student is required to study course material prior to the classroom portion. Students must read the Today’s Hunter Student Manual and complete the review exercises at the back of the book. The review exercises must be presented

to the course instructor, or the student will not be certified. Student manuals may be obtained at any DGIF regional office or may be purchased by calling 1-800-830-2268. A free download of the manual is available on www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting/education.

Section 2 – Classroom portion.

Students will focus on safety and ethics. A written test will be given at the end of the class. Test questions will cover material from the classroom portion and from the self-study material.

Courses are offered free of charge throughout the Commonwealth. For more information, go to the Hunter Education page on the DGIF website at www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting/education or call the Hunter Education Office at (804) 367-2901 or (804) 367-1147.

Full Online Course

Hunters age 12 and over may also take hunter education completely online. There is a fee associated with this course. For more information, go to www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting/education.

Hunter Education Requirements

You must complete an approved hunter education course and carry your card while hunting if either of the following apply:

  • You are 12–15 years of age. (You must complete hunter education but you do not have to carry your card if accompanied and properly supervised by a licensed adult.)
  • You are at least 16 years of age and you are hunting with your first hunting license.

Virginia accepts and recognizes all states’ and countries’ hunting licenses and official hunter education credentials for the purpose of complying with mandatory hunter education requirements. These may be in the form of an identification card or certificate.

Although it is recommended for all hunters, you are not required to complete hunter education if:

  • You only hunt foxes with hounds while on horseback, but without firearms.
  • You are exempt from the requirement to purchase a license.
  • You are under the age of 12. However, you may not hunt unless accompanied and directly supervised by a licensed adult.
  • You are hunting with an apprentice license. In that case you must be accompanied and directly supervised by an adult over the age of 18 who has, on his person, a valid Virginia hunting license. “Accompanied and directly supervised” means the adult maintains close visual and verbal contact with, provides adequate direction to, and can immediately assume control of the firearm from the apprentice hunter. When buying a hunting license, the apprentice hunting license cannot be used as proof of previously purchasing a hunting license.If you purchase an apprentice hunting license and then complete hunter education, you may then use the apprentice license as a basic hunting license to hunt without supervision until it expires unless otherwise required by law to be supervised, as in the case of hunting on a youth/apprentice hunting weekend where apprentice hunters must be supervised by a licensed adult. You must carry proof of hunter education while hunting unsupervised.

Hunter Skills Weekends

Virginia Hunter Skills Weekends are offered twice each year near Appomattox, through a partnership program between the Virginia Hunter Education Association, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center. These affordable educational programs are open to ages 11–90+ (children under 18 must attend with a parent). A variety of instructional courses provide skill development for new and seasoned hunters alike. They include firearms, archery, survival, game cooking, tree stand safety, and a variety of hunting techniques. Completion of a Hunter Education course is preferred but not required. For more information on registration fees and dates visit www.holidaylake4h.com, call Holiday Lake at (434) 248-5444, or e-mail levic93@vt.edu.