All of Kentucky’s hunter education requirements can now be fulfilled virtually, eliminating the need for in-person instruction.
For those unable to complete the necessary requirements before going hunting, the department is now offering its one-year exemption permit at no cost, but only for a limited time.
Hunter education, which covers the basics of hunting and provides valuable instruction on firearms and outdoor safety, is required for hunters born in 1975 or more recently. There are some exemptions to Kentucky’s hunter education requirements, including youths under the age of 12 or landowners and their dependents hunting on their own property.
Hunter education certification is a two-step process: classwork, followed by time at a range to demonstrate safe handling of firearms or bows.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources temporarily suspended in-person hunter education courses to help protect Kentuckians and state employees from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). However, individuals can now receive their hunter education certification virtually. Participants have the option of receiving their hunter education certification at no cost.
The first step is successful completion of an online course available through fw.ky.gov for the classroom portion. Several department-approved hunter education courses are available free or for a nominal fee from partnering organizations.
After completion of an online course, participants can host a personal, “virtual range day” by creating a video of themselves displaying safe firearms or bow handling practices under supervision of a qualifying adult, then submitting it to the department for review and approval. This takes the place of an in-person range day.
Hunters must register for their virtual range day then create a video as outlined on the department’s website. The website includes requirements for what the video must contain and how to submit it. Each student must have a mentor who already has hunter education certification present for the entire video. Students may use a firearm, bow or air gun.
The department encourages students to complete the online course and virtual range day as early as possible because it can take up to two weeks to process and issue hunter education certification once a student has satisfied the requirements.
The department also recognizes other states’ official hunter education certifications, regardless of course format.
Those who have not completed the hunter education course have the option of obtaining a temporary hunter education exemption permit. The one-time permit, which is good for one year, is now being offered free for a limited time.
Exemption permits are available online at fw.ky.gov/huntered. To obtain the permit, participants must read short passages on ethics, safety, laws and hunter orange requirements, then correctly answer a series of questions.
Permit holders must hunt with a qualified adult mentor. The mentor must be hunter education-certified or born before 1975, and be within arm’s reach of the exemption permit holder, in order to take control of the hunting equipment in case of an emergency.
For additional information, contact the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Information Center. Email the center at Info.Center@ky.gov or call 1-800-858-1549 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Eastern) on weekdays.
Hunting licenses and permits are available in many stores that sell sporting goods, or online at fw.ky.gov.