California Department of Fish and Wildlife

California Hunter Education Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Who needs hunter education?

In most states, hunters can not hunt legally unless they have had some type of formal education in the proper handling of firearms. Today, California requires hunter education training for all persons who have not formerly held a California hunting license, who do not have a hunter education certificate of completion, or who do not have a current, valid, hunting license from another state or province.

Can I take a hunter education class on-line?

Yes and no. California does have an on-line course. The on-line course in itself will not get you a valid hunter education certificate. There are currently three options for the you. Hunter-Ed.com, HUNTERcourse.com California and the International Hunter Education Association. These sites have an on-line course that you can run through at your own pace. Once you have completed one of the above on-line courses, you will still need to attend a 4 hour home study/on-line follow-up class with a certified hunter education instructor. The benefit of taking this class is having the ability to study at a pace that works for you and to only have to take a 4 hour follow-up classroom session versus a 10+ hour class. A list of home study/on-line instructors is located on our website. Classes are listed by county. Class Schedule

How old do you have to be to take a hunter education course?

There is not a minimum age requirement to take the course, but young children may find the course demanding. A Hunter Education Instructor may be able help you decide whether your child is old enough.

How do I replace a lost certificate?

The Department of Fish and Wildlife started to maintain a database of students in 1989. If the student took the class after that date, they should contact the Department of Fish and Wildlife Hunter Education office in Sacramento, (916) 653-1235, to request a duplicate certificate. If the student's name is in the database, which means that they correctly completed the Scantron form, and they successfully passed the course, then we can issue a duplicate certificate. If the name is not in the database, or if the class was completed prior to 1989, the student should contact the original instructor, club, or organization where the course was taught to obtain a duplicate. If the student is unable to obtain a duplicate through these means, they will have to repeat the course.

May I get a hunting license without taking a Class?

The Department of Fish and Wildlife offers a comprehensive equivalency testing program at each regional office. You may request information on this method of testing from the offices listed above. There is a non-refundable, administrative fee required to take the examination. If you fail the examination, you must take a hunter education class to become certified.
Warning! Not all states accept the equivalency certificate as proof of hunter education. All states will accept the certificate of completion that is awarded upon completion of a hunter education class.

What will I learn in the course? How long will it take?

The Hunter Education course consists of a minimum of ten hours of classroom, homework, and field instruction in the following areas: firearms safety and handling, sportsmanship and ethics, wildlife management and conservation, archery, black powder, wildlife identification, game care, first aid, and survival. After a student has successfully completed the course of instruction and passed the final examination, they are awarded a Certificate of Completion. Parents are encouraged to participate with their children in the course and it’s related activities. There is not a minimum age requirement to take the course, but young children may find the course demanding.

A fee may not be charged for an instructor’s service; however, fees may be used to cover the purchase of training aids such as slides, flip charts, targets, and other training aids.

The Hunter Education Instructor makes the final decision in determining whether a student is qualified to receive a Certificate of Completion. A student who is unsafe, or fails to demonstrate good sportsmanship will not be issued a Certificate of Completion.

The Ten Commandments of Firearms Safety

  1. Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
  2. Watch that Muzzle! Be able to control the direction of the muzzle at all times.
  3. Be sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions.
  4. Be sure of your target before you pull the trigger.
  5. Unload guns when not in use.
  6. Never point a gun at anything you do not intend to shoot.
  7. Never climb a fence or tree or jump a ditch with a loaded gun.
  8. Never shoot a bullet at a flat, hard surface or water.
  9. Store guns and ammunition separately, beyond the reach of children and careless adults.
  10. Avoid alcoholic beverages and mind altering drugs before or during shooting.

This agency receives federal funds. Under federal law, discrimination is prohibited on the basis of race, color, age, sex, national origin or handicap. If you believe you have been discriminated against in any program, activity or facility of this agency, contact the Equal Opportunity Officer, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, 1416 9th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814, or the Office of Equal Opportunity, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, DC, 20240.