Individuals needing hunter education have classroom and online options.

The calendar may still say “summer,” but many people are starting to prepare for this fall’s hunting seasons. If taking hunter education is one of the things you need to do to enjoy firearms hunting opportunities this year, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has several options available.

Individuals born after Jan. 1, 1967 hunting in Missouri during a firearms season or acting as an adult mentor to another hunter must have hunter education certification unless exempt (see exemptions listed below). MDC offers two hunter education options; an all-online format and a blended format.

The all-online format may be completed by Missouri residents age 16 and older. It consists of an online course and requires a fee paid to the online course provider (not MDC). The all-online option requires the passing of a final exam, but has no skills portion.

The blended format has two parts. The knowledge portion provides information to participants on all aspects of hunter education and can be taken online, through a free self-study guide, or in a classroom setting. Participants must also complete a four-hour skills session that includes a multiple-choice final exam. The skills portion is a hands-on demonstration of skills learned by participants. Participants must complete and pass both portions to earn certification.

For individuals participating in the blended format, here is a list of skills sessions coming up in south-central Missouri:

•Sept. 8 – 6 - 8:30 p.m., MDC Twin Pines Conservation Education Center, 20086 U.S. Highway 60, 1.3 miles east of Winona, Shannon County.

•Sept. 17 – 6-8:30 p.m., MDC Twin Pines Conservation Education Center

•Sept. 21 – 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m., Waynesville Rural Fire Protection District Emergency Services Training Center, 25785 Red Oak Road, Waynesville, Pulaski County.

•Sept. 28 – 5:30-9:30 p.m., open pavilion and meeting hall northeast of Vienna Senior Center, 210 Ballpark, Vienna, Maries County.

•Oct. 5 – 5:30-9:30 p.m., Bray Conservation Area, 14220 County Road 7000( Bridge School Road), Rolla, Phelps County.

•Oct. 20 – 5-7 p.m., MDC Ozark Regional Office, 551 Joe Jones Blvd., West Plains, Howell County.

•Oct. 20 – 7:30-9:30 p.m., MDC Ozark Regional Office, West Plains.

•Oct. 27 – 5-7 p.m., MDC Ozark Regional Office, West Plains.

•Oct. 27 – 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m., MDC Ozark Regional Office, West Plains.

To register for these skills sessions, visit mdc.mo.gov/huntereducation.

To help keep participants, instructors, and others safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, MDC will limit in-person class sizes to small numbers so social distancing can be practiced. Class availability will also be limited due to smaller class sizes and limited availability of venues. MDC will abide by applicable local health requirements and strongly encourages participants to bring and wear masks. Hand sanitizer will be available to participants, but masks will not be provided by at the above-listed classes.

“To help staff, volunteers, program participants, and others stay safe, MDC has changed the format and structure of some of our programs, including hunter education,” said MDC Hunter Education and Shooting Range Coordinator Justin McGuire. “Opportunities to attend an in-person hunter education class or skills session are available, but limited, at this time. MDC still offers ample opportunities for people to legally hunt in Missouri through youth exemptions, our apprentice hunter education authorization, and online hunter education.”

Exemptions to Missouri’s hunter education requirements are:

•Hunters born before Jan. 1, 1967.

•Hunters age 15 or younger who will be hunting with an adult mentor age 18 years or     older who is certified in hunter education.

•Hunters with a disability exemption from MDC.

•Hunters age 16 or older who have purchased an apprentice hunter authorization and will be hunting with a properly permitted adult mentor age 18 or older.

•Hunters who are landowners hunting on land they own.

•Hunters who can prove completion of an approved hunter education course in another state.

More information about hunter education opportunities in south-central Missouri can be obtained by calling MDC’s Ozark Regional Office at 417-256-7161 or going to mdc.mo.gov.