CHEYENNE - Planning for big game hunting in Wyoming begins in the winter months even though the actual hunting will not take place until the fall hunting season. Along with hunt planning, the Game and Fish advises that winter is also a good time to include a hunter safety class as part of the preparation for upcoming hunting seasons.
“The same attention that is given to advanced hunting planning should also be applied to taking a hunter safetycourse,” said Game and Fish hunter education coordinator Jim Dawson. “It’s a lot easier to get the hunter safety class requirement taken care of now, instead of waiting until the last minute and hoping to find a class a few weeks before hunting season.”
Hunter education certification is required for anyone born on or after Jan 1, 1966, to take wildlife with a firearm in Wyoming. The exceptions are for landowner’s immediate family hunting only on their own land and those with the hunter mentor program one year exemption.
Dawson said now that most seasons have ended, many hunters are already planning for next fall (online applications for some species opened in January). “But, hunts for spring bear and spring turkey are only a few months away,” Dawson said. “Spring wild turkey hunting, in particular, is gaining in popularity with young hunters and now is a good time to sign up for a hunter education class to ensure upcoming hunting opportunities are not missed.”
There is no minimum age for hunting small game in Wyoming, but 12 years old is the minimum age for big or trophy game. Dawson said that students of any age may enroll in hunter education classes, but those reaching the age of11 before taking the class have the best success rate. “Ten-year-old students when accompanied by parents for the duration of the class, most often also have a positive experience,” Dawson said.
In Wyoming, hunter education classes are taught by approximately 350 volunteer instructors. Dawson said this group is a dedicated cadre always looking to recruit new members, but they offer most of their classes in the winter and spring since most are out hunting during the fall.
Finding out where and when classes are offered along with enrolling into a hunter education class is easy. All it takes is a visit to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department website at wgfd.wyo.gov. The WGFD website has detailed information on when and where classes are offered and is updated weekly.
“Instructors in many smaller towns sometimes only conduct one course each year,” Dawson said. “So if you or someone you know will need hunter education, check out the details now to make sure you don’t miss out.”
(Contact: Joetta Osborn (307) 777-4538)