Evolution and Requirements of Delaware's Hunter Education Program

Program Introduction and Basic Requirements:

  • Establishment: Delaware's Hunter Education Program commenced in 1970.
  • Legal Mandate: Section 501, Title 7 of the Delaware Code mandates anyone born after January 1, 1967, to complete a Basic Hunter Education Course for a Delaware hunting license, including a Youth Hunting License.

Success and Impact:

  • Certification Milestone: Since its inception, the program, powered by volunteer instructors, has certified tens of thousands of hunters.
  • Accident Mitigation: The program's influence has been pivotal in substantially mitigating accidents and risks among hunters.

Program Adaptation and Modern Curriculum:

  • Adapting to New Challenges: As demographics evolve, along with habitat shrinkage and reduced hunting spaces, the program has adapted to the new era's demands and challenges.
  • Updated Curriculum: Contemporary course content emphasizes:
    • Safety and ethical hunting conduct.
    • Relations with landowners.
    • Wildlife identification and conservation.
    • Understanding hunting laws and regulations.
    • Live firing as a course requirement.

Commitment to Hunting Heritage:

  • Extended Education Offerings: The Delaware Hunter Education Program is dedicated to upholding fair chase hunting principles, offering courses such as:
    • Optimal safety practices
    • Turkey Education
    • Trapper Education
    • Advanced training like Bowhunting, Muzzleloading, Handgun Hunting for Deer, and others.
    • Specialty workshops and programs for young waterfowlers and deer hunters.

The program's commitment to education ensures that Delaware hunting remains a responsible, ethical, and conservation-oriented tradition.

Hunter Education Program: Certification Courses 

Offered free of charge, live firing courses occur throughout the year. Certification is granted exclusively to individuals aged ten and above. The Hunter Education Program supplies all firearms and ammunition needed for training. Aspiring hunters are advised to complete their training at least one month before their planned hunting dates. Certification cards, which are mandatory for purchasing a Delaware hunting license, are available to be printed online shortly after course completion, typically within a few days.

Hunter Education Course Registration and Legal Requirements

Prospective participants must register in advance due to limited seating—classes fill rapidly as hunting season nears. Delaware law mandates live shotgun firing as a component of the basic hunter education curriculum, making hands-on experience a legal requirement for aspiring hunters. Early registration is strongly recommended.

Youth Participation in Hunter Education

Certification is unavailable to youths below the age of ten. Those under twelve must attend with a supervising adult. Parents must recognize that young students must show adequate maturity and understanding of complex subject matter to fulfill coursework. Additionally, those with smaller body sizes may face challenges or be unable to perform the necessary live-firing exercises successfully. Parents should assess their child’s readiness for such activities.

Delaware Hunter Education Resources and Assistance

For comprehensive details on the Delaware Hunter Education program and to review available course types, visit Delaware Hunter Safety.

To discover course locations and schedules, access the Course Calendar.

For course registration, address updates, contact information modification, or to request a replacement Hunter Safety Card, utilize the Digital DNREC portal.

Should you require further support with any Hunter Education matters, contact assistance is available at 302-735-3600 x 1 or via email at Hunter Education Support.

Live-Fire Component and Liability in Delaware Hunter Education

Effective January 1, 2010, section 501 of Delaware Code Title 7 stipulates a live-fire exercise as a compulsory portion of basic hunter education, supervised by a certified firearms instructor.

Adherence to State of Delaware insurance regulations necessitates every live-firing participant to sign a “Release From Liability Waiver,” a binding legal document.

For course registration, specifics on the waiver, and live-fire prerequisites, visit Digital DNREC or dial 302-735-3600 x 1.

Minors under 18 must present the waiver signed by a parent or guardian, alongside notarization. Adults 18 and over are required to complete, sign, and mail the waiver to the Hunter Education office directly. Questions about the waiver or its receipt by the office should be directed to 302-735-3600 x 1.

Hunter Education Course Scheduling and Enrollment

Hunter education courses, primarily led by volunteer instructors, are scheduled from late August through December. Keep in mind that class specifics, including dates and locations, may be altered due to instructor availability and student enrollment levels. Not all locations listed in print may be utilized, and not all courses may be continuously offered.

To avoid delay, it is recommended not to procrastinate on taking the necessary courses. Classes are typically held somewhere in Delaware each month.

For those seeking hunter education certification for an upcoming hunting season, refer to the most current schedule available online at Delaware Hunter Safety.

Sign up for the preferred course through the same website or reach out at 302-735-3600 x 1 within business hours for registration. All course dates are tentative and may be subject to cancellation or changes. Additionally, there may be a multi-week delay in processing exams and recording results in the system.

Traditional Basic Hunter Education: Live Course Registration and Requirements

To secure a spot in our traditional, live basic hunter education courses, advance registration is a must either via Hunter Education Online Access or by calling 302-735-3600 x 1, as seating is restricted.

These courses provide comprehensive instruction in safety, ethics, firearm types, proper gun handling, marksmanship, hunting techniques, wildlife management, species identification, and survival skills. Following Delaware law, hunter education certification is mandatory through a traditional live course or an internet course combined with a field day for all individuals born after January 1, 1967. The certification is valid across all states and Canadian provinces.

The curriculum now includes a mandatory live firing session with an expert instructor. For participants aged 18 and above to engage in shotgun live firing, a liability release must be signed. Those under 18 require a notarized parental/guardian signature on this release. Students must have protective eyewear and hearing protection during live fire which, along with firearms, targets, and ammunition, are supplied by the program at no cost. The bulk of these courses take place from late summer to fall, and while there's no fee, pre-registration is essential.

Online Basic Hunter Education: Course Access and Completion Process

Delaware offers an online alternative for completing basic hunter education through three approved private vendors. These courses permit enrollees to study and take the exam at no initial cost. A fee is incurred only upon successful completion for the vendor to issue certification. The interactive online courses, endorsed by the State of Delaware which, however, does not receive any portion of the fees, cover an array of topics including safety, ethics, firearm handling, hunting techniques, wildlife management, and survival.

Upon obtaining a certificate from one of these courses, students are required to sign up for and participate in a "hands-on" field day training session, which is necessary for final Delaware certification. This training encompasses Delaware-specific laws, safe firearm operation, practical field skills, and live shotgun firing.

Shotgun live firing mandates a signed liability release for participants age 18 or older, or a notarized parental/guardian signature for those under 18. Protective eyewear and hearing protection are compulsory for all live-firing attendees, with firearms, targets, and ammunition supplied. To explore Delaware-approved internet courses more deeply or to coordinate the field day training, visit Delaware Hunter Safety or contact 302-735-3600 x 1.

IBEP Bowhunter Education: Enrollment and Course Content

IBEP Bowhunter Education courses necessitate early online signup at Delaware Hunter Safety or by calling 302-735-3600 x 1 due to limited seating availability.

While the course is not mandatory in Delaware, it is a prerequisite for bowhunters in numerous other states and territories. The curriculum includes bowhunting techniques, game tracking, safety protocols, interpreting wildlife signs, proper tree stand utilization, animal calling strategies, field dressing methods, and other essential skills. For minors under the age of 14, the presence of a responsible adult is obligatory.

All participants must complete the live firing segment and furnish a signed liability release to enroll. Secure your course access promptly, bearing in mind the requisite advanced registration at the aforementioned online portal.

Young Waterfowlers Program: Course Details and Registration

The Young Waterfowlers Program, aimed at 12 to 16-year-olds, requires all prospective participants to register in advance at Delaware Hunter Safety or by reaching out to 302-735-3600 x 1, as places are strictly limited.

This popular 20-hour course immerses youth in the full spectrum of waterfowl hunting. Educational topics covered include waterfowl identification and biology, the construction and safety of blinds, effective decoy placement, duck calling skills, camouflage application, boating safety, retrieving downed birds, as well as understanding pertinent laws and regulations, language and traditions associated with waterfowling. It also imparts knowledge about firearms, ammunition, and necessary equipment. The program inherently incorporates basic hunter education and culminates with a real-life, mentored waterfowl hunt. Prior hunter education certification is a prerequisite for participation in the hunting portion of the program.

To take part in the Young Waterfowlers Program, it's essential to complete the required online registration and submit a signed release of liability.

Turkey Hunter Education: Mandatory Course Registration and Certification

For those aiming to hunt turkeys in Delaware, a specific turkey hunter education course is a required step for all hunters aged 13 and over, in addition to meeting other hunter education requirements. Securing a spot in the program is managed through early online enrollment at Delaware Hunter Safety or by calling 302-735-3600 x 1, as seating capacity is limited and course dates need to be verified.

Completion of this course necessitates an update to the individual's hunting license, as course completion will be reflected directly on the license. Hunters who previously attained this certification no longer need to carry the separate card provided it appears on their hunting license. Additionally, those planning to hunt on public lands are obligated to obtain an annual permit from the Division for State Wildlife Areas or from the Delaware Department of Agriculture for State Forests.

Online Turkey Course Option

An online alternative via Today's Hunter Turkey 101 is also recognized by Delaware, albeit for a $29.99 certification fee. Post-course, it's imperative to contact the Hunter Education office at huntereducation@delaware.gov or 302-735-3600 (x 1) to ensure account updates accurately reflect the accomplished course. Submitting a copy of the completion certificate is part of this process, and including a contact number is advised should further clarification be needed.

Mandatory Trapper Education: Course Enrollment and Requirements

Delaware requires trapper education as an essential step for those born after January 1, 1978, to obtain a trapping license. To reserve a seat in these sessions, advance online registration is needed at Delaware Hunter Safety, or interested individuals can call 302-735-3600 x 1 due to limited availability.

The comprehensive Trapper Education courses comprise classroom learning and fieldwork, exploring the history and ethics of trapping, Delaware's fur-bearing species, various trapping equipment, boating safety including hypothermia prevention, intricate water setting techniques, hands-on instruction, considerations for tidal influences on trapping setups, and methods for skinning, fur processing, and marketing.

Online Trapper Course Method:

An online option, compatible with Delaware's requirements, is available through the Illinois Basic Trapper Course and Kansas Furbearer Course. Once the online course is completed, students must reach out to the Hunter Education office via huntereducation@delaware.gov or 302-735-3600 x 1 to arrange for their records to be updated. Submitting the completion certificate is required, and including a contact number is beneficial for any follow-up queries.

For more details about this or other classes, as well as the full Hunter Education Program, please visit Delaware Hunter Safety, or direct inquiries to:

The Hunter Education Office 6180 Hay Point Landing Road Smyrna, DE 19977 302-735-3600 x 1.

Delaware Master Hunter Program: Advanced Certification

This program is not suited for novices. As an adept hunter with years of experience, the Delaware Master Hunter Program is tailored for individuals who embrace ethical hunting and are committed to lifelong learning about hunting practices, wildlife management, and the societal aspects of hunting. This course is an opportunity for seasoned hunters to stay informed about the latest in hunting innovations, contribute to the hunting community, and help sustain hunting traditions for future enthusiasts.

Candidates will find themselves amongst peers, learning and sharing valuable insights acquired through years of hands-on experiences. By becoming a Delaware Master Hunter, you will gain official recognition and certification by the State of Delaware, marking a respected status in the hunting community.

To join this elite group, ensure early online registration at Delaware Hunter Safety due to limited seats, or call 302-735-3600 x 1 to receive an application through mail. The Delaware Hunter Education Office will provide prospective applicants with all necessary materials and information regarding upcoming sessions.

Directions to Delaware Hunter/Trapper Education Classrooms

Cedarfield Ruritan Club - Milford Directions

  • From Route 113 South: Proceed Southbound.
  • Before Rt. 113/Rt. 1 split, I.G. Burton car dealership will appear on the right.
  • Immediately post-dealership, take the first right onto Tub Mill Pond Road.
  • Follow the “S” curve, the Ruritan Club (white building) is visible on your left.

DNREC / FW Auditorium in the R&R Building - Dover Directions

  • Starting from US 13, turn westward onto Loockerman Street.
  • After crossing a bridge, make a right at the first traffic light, adjacent to the Post Office.
  • This road leads straight to the DNREC building parking lot.

Become a Volunteer Hunter – Trapper Education Instructor

Thinking of volunteering? Become an integral part of Delaware's hunting and trapping education:

  • For additional details, download the application at Delaware Hunter Safety.
  • Submit the completed form via mail to the Office of Hunter Education at the specified Smyrna address.
  • Direct any inquiries to the Hunter Education Coordinator at 302-735-3600 x 1.
Delaware Hunting Education Curriculum


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