From the desk of DNR Sgt. Tim White: How-tos for first-time hunters

FRENCH CREEK – Fall is fast approaching, and at means deer season is almost here.

Any young hunters looking to go hunting this fall will need to take a hunter’s education course before they head to the woods. Any new hunter born on or after Jan. 1, 1975 must take a hunter’s education course, and they must be 10 years old to take the course. Sgt. Tim White with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources in French Creek said they will still be offering their in-person classes.

“We’re still going to have our traditional classes, which involve a minimum of 10 hours in the classroom,” White said. “The class is free, and they have to be 10 by the last day of the class to be able to test for certification, but they get their class, they take the test, there’s a hands-on portion as well, and at the end of that, if they’ve passed, they get their card in the classroom.”

White said there are online options for those who don’t want to attend the class in person.

“They just come in after they take a series of tests online, and they bring a print-off voucher that says they have completed the online requirements and passed the test,” White said. “Then, they bring that into the hands-on and written test date that we have, and they sit down, take the same test that they would have taken in the traditional class.

“They also demonstrate proficiency with the weapons, doing a hands-on portion as well,” White added.

The online and traditional course registration may be found on the West Virginia DNR website here.

“Honestly for young kids, I would prefer they come to our traditional class because they’re going to learn a lot more with volunteer instructors teaching classes because our officers teach the classes,” White said. “Some of our wildlife folks are even volunteers and come in at some of our classes. That means they get to see and hear their stories and get some real hands-on type demonstrations of how things are, and there’s no substitute in the computer for doing that.”

The first traditional class will take place Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. each night on Sept. 21, 22 and 23 at the VFW Post 3663 in Buckhannon. The first in-person test for those who took the online class will happen Sept. 22 at 4 p.m. at the VFW in Buckhannon.

The second dates for the traditional class are slated for Oct. 5, 6, and 7 from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Banks District Volunteer Fire Department in Rock Cave. The second date for the in-person test for those who took the online course is 7 p.m. on Oct. 6.

The last dates for the traditional class are Oct. 26, 27 and 28 from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Buckhannon VFW, and the last in-person test for those doing the online course will be Oct. 27 at 4p.m. at the Buckhannon VFW.

“With COVID-19, we’re being extra careful and are requiring students to wear masks this fall,” White said. “Unless the policy changes with the governor’s office, we have to have everybody wear a mask that attends the class, and of course, we’re limited to 25 folks, so we’re going to be probably pushing right up to that limit, I’d say most of our classes and will be full this fall.”

Once someone is 15 years old, they must register for a hunting license.

“They can go online and buy licenses at and check their game there,” White said. “You can kill your game, have it tagged and then checked in electronically, all from your phone out in the middle of the woods as long as you have service; you can have it done within just a couple minutes.”

After a person purchases their license they may either print the license from home or download it to their phone.

“If somebody is apprehensive about taking the course with the COVID-19 stuff right now and just being in group environments, we do offer what’s called an apprentice license,” White said.

He explained an apprentice license was created to circumvent the hunter education requirement in case a person wants to try hunting but doesn’t know if they want to dedicate 10 hours to takige the course.

“I’ll just say, for example, a guy is dating a girl who’s never hunted before, and she shows interest in hunting,” White said. “She doesn’t know that she wants to take the class because she’s never been in the woods yet, so she can go to the store and buy the apprentice license, and say she’s 20 years old – she can buy the apprentice license. She can buy that license three times in a five-year period without taking the hunter education class.”

They also offer a junior apprentice license for those that are 15, 16 or 17.

“They can do anything a hunter can do, but they have to be with a licensed adult that’s 18 or older who stays with them,” White said.

Read more about state hunting regulations here.

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