With more and more outdoorsmen getting their kids involved in hunting, the Illinois DNR has been overwhelmed with the demand for hunter safety courses. But they now are offering online courses that should meet the need by giving the opportunity for youngsters to receive the required training.
In Illinois, anyone born on or after January 1, 1980 is required to pass the Illinois Hunter Certification program in order to buy a hunting license. In fact, most other states require proof of hunter safety training in order to hunt in their state or province. In Illinois, there are two ways to receive the required Hunter Education Certificate— by taking a two-day on site course led by certified instructors or taking a combination of online course followed by a field day. It is the policy of IDNR that youth under the age of ten must be accompanied to and during the safety education courses by an adult or guardian at least sixteen years of age. Mere attendance of a safety education training and taking a written test will not guarantee the passing of this course. Multiple criteria such as mental and physical acuity, the ability to demonstrate and recognize safe procedures, attitude and the maturity level of each individual student will be a factor assessed by the instructors in the final certification process. After either course — online or the instructor-led on site classes— the students are required to take and pass a written exam. Although the online course is sufficient, youngsters stand to receive a more comprehensive experience by taking the instructor-led courses, where they can ask questions and interact with instructors.
Although there is no required minimum age, I recommend waiting until your kids are at least eleven or twelve years old to take the course. Any younger and they may not retain as much. If you have a youngster that wants to hunt and is still a little young to take and pass the required courses, there is an option to receive an "apprentice" hunting license through the DNR. A licensed parent can purchase this apprentice license that will enable their son or daughter to buy a deer or turkey permit and participate in one of the youth seasons. Nothing beats one-on-one training and real "field" experience. But hunter safety courses definitely give kids the basic foundation of safety, firearms, first aid, and sportsmanship to get them started.
So if you want to hunt with your kid this fall, there are definitely options available. Get more information on the DNR website including a list of instructor-led classes or the online courses. Click HERE, and get your kid hunting this fall!
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