Hunter Education Turns 30

By Kyle Lairmore | August 1, 2017
From Missouri Conservationist: August 2017

Kevin Dixon enjoyed completing Missouri’s Hunter Education Program in 1993, shortly after he moved to Union, but he wasn’t interested in teaching it. Then he had a frightening and potentially dangerous experience while turkey hunting one spring.

“I was headed up a hill toward lots of gobbling — about 100–125 yards above me,” Dixon said. “Suddenly, a loud BOOM and a second blast came from where the turkeys were gobbling. It gave me quite a scare. I retreated quickly back the way I had come. I had no idea those other hunters were there — I was told they’d be across the creek from me, almost a quarter mile away. If I had made it to that hilltop, I could easily have been in the line of fire. After that, I decided to get into teaching hunter ed and have done so now for almost 20 years.”

Kevin’s story illustrates why the Missouri Conservation Commission adopted a mandatory hunter education program in 1987. That same year, Missouri recorded 98 hunting incidents, the highest rate in the state’s history. Since then, firearm-related hunting incidents have declined by over 70 percent in Missouri. In 2016, for example, only 10 hunting incidents, none with fatalities, were reported.

Do You Like to Shoot or Want to Hunt?

To keep hunting and firearms-related incidents low, MDC encourages gun owners and those interested in hunting to take hunter education.

Whether you pursue hunter education through the new online option, with the self-study workbook, or in the classroom, start the program months before you plan to go afield. Early registration ensures you’ll find a course near you and you’ll be educated, trained, and certified to take to the woods on opening day.

Even if you’re only interested in shooting sports, such as clay targets or rifle shooting, Missouri’s Hunter Education Program can make you a better, safer shooter. Visit to find a course near you.

Who Must Become Hunter-Education Certified?

Any hunter born on or after Jan. 1, 1967, must obtain Missouri’s hunter education certification. If you plan to hunt during a Missouri firearms season or you are acting as an adult mentor, you MUST first complete an approved hunter-education certification program and provide proof of completion UNLESS you qualify for one of the exceptions listed below:

  • You are 15 or younger and will be hunting with a properly permitted adult mentor 18 or older.
  • You were born before Jan. 1, 1967.
  • You received a disability exemption from MDC’s Protection Division.
  • You are 16 or older, have purchased an Apprentice Hunter Authorization, and will be hunting with a properly permitted adult mentor 18 or older.
  • You are the landowner or lessee hunting on land you own or upon which you reside.
  • You can prove you completed an approved hunter education program in another state.

What Does The Program Cover?

Missouri’s Hunter Education Program provides a foundation in hunting safety and ethics. It instills responsibility, improves skills and knowledge, and encourages interaction between beginner and veteran hunters. Students will complete the program knowing more about the following topics:

  • Hunter responsibility and ethics
  • How to operate a firearm safely
  • Wildlife identification, game care, survival, and first-aid skills
  • Firearm-handling skills and hunting techniques
  • Wildlife conservation and management
  • Regulations and information unique to Missouri

Who Can Take The Program?

Anyone age 11 or older who enjoys the outdoors will benefit from hunter education. The program is also an excellent refresher for veteran hunters.

How Do I Earn My Missouri Hunter Education Certificate?

Adult All Online Option New for 2017

$15 fee (paid to online program provider) Anyone age 16 and older can complete the entire program online. Our convenient online/mobile program is accessible to those with hearing difficulties. Find it at It includes text, audio, images, graphs, videos, and interactive animation to help you complete all the chapter reviews. Once you’ve completed and passed a 60-question final exam with a score of 80 percent or better, you will receive your certification.

Blended Options

These options give you three ways to complete the knowledge portion, regardless of your age. Choose from online, printed self-study guide, or classroom session. After you successfully complete the knowledge portion, you’ll be qualified to enter a skills session.

First, choose one knowledge session

  • Online $15 fee (paid to online program provider) In this option, you complete the knowledge portion online. Once you complete the chapter reviews, you will receive an online skills-session qualifier certificate, which you must present to enter the required skills session.
  • Self-study guide Free If you prefer printed study materials, you can order a study guide at, or pick one up at an MDC office. Study the illustrated manual, complete all chapter review questions, and present it to the instructor at the skills session.
  • Classroom session Free Attend a four-hour classroom session featuring lectures and videos. Register at or call your regional office. After the classroom session, you must complete all student manual chapter review questions and present it to the instructor at the skills session. Then complete the free skills session and pass the exam.

Regardless of your age, once you’ve completed one of the three knowledge session options, you MUST register for and attend a four-hour skills session at, or call your regional office.

To enter this session, you MUST present your online skills-session qualifier certificate OR your student manual with all chapter reviews completed to gain entry.

The skills session includes a mandatory 35-question, multiple-choice final exam. After successfully completing the skills session, you will receive a temporary certificate so you can purchase a permit and hunt immediately.

Be Ready to Hunt This Fall — Register Now!

Although 1,000 classes are offered statewide, they fill up fast. Find a class near you and register as soon as possible. Throughout the year, the best times to find available hunter education classes are March and April before spring turkey season and

August and September before deer season. Can Kids Try Hunting Without Becoming Hunter-Education Certified?

Youth should begin hunting with an adult mentor to become familiar with hunting and terminology before taking the program.

If they are in the immediate presence of an adult mentor who possesses the proper permit, youths younger than age 16 DO NOT need hunter education to hunt any game species in Missouri until they are ready to hunt alone.

What About Adults?

The Apprentice Hunter Program lets people 16 and older try hunting as long as they hunt with a properly permitted adult (18 or older) mentor. Learn about the Apprentice Hunter Program at, or call your regional office (see Page 2 for phone numbers).

To learn more about Missouri’s Hunter Education Program, visit or contact hunter education staff in Jefferson City or any of the eight regional offices.

Hunter Education in Schools

Many Missouri schools teach hunter education as part of their school curriculum. If your school is interested in offering Missouri’s Hunter Education Program, please call the outdoor skills specialist at your regional office.

Check Other States’ Hunter Ed Requirements

If you’re planning to hunt out-of-state, be sure to check other states’ regulations well in advance of your trip. All states recognize Missouri’s Hunter Education Certification, but not all states have the same age exemption. For example, Missouri requires hunter education for anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1967, while Colorado requires hunter education for anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1949.

This means many exempt Missourians may not be exempt in Colorado or other states. It is important to be aware of this before traveling out-of-state to give yourself time to obtain a Missouri Hunter Education Certification.

Also In This Issue

Stocking Alligator Gar
Five species can top 100 pounds and test anglers’ strength.

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen

Staff Writer - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler