The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) reminds potential hunters that the spring wild turkey season is fast approaching, beginning April 28 through May 29. If you have never hunted before, there is plenty of time to enroll in a required hunter education course and hunt this spring. New options for home study through an Internet –based course may make it easier for some people to fulfill a portion of the course requirements.

“Our Conservation Education/Firearms Safety (CE/FS) Programs have been remarkably successful; so successful that those wishing to take one of our firearms courses sometimes find it difficult to locate available classes close to where they live,” said Rick Jacobson, Acting Director of the DEP Wildlife Division. “We need to find new, innovative ways to keep hunters trained and keep everyone safe.”

Since 1982, Connecticut law has required all first time hunters or those who have not held a resident firearms license within the past five years to obtain a certificate of completion from the Conservation Education/Firearms Safety (CE/FS) Program, commonly called hunter education. Since 2002, all bowhunters have been required by law to obtain certification regardless of previous licensing history. CE/FS courses in firearms hunting, bowhunting and trapping are offered free-of-charge throughout most of the year. A corps of 326 certified volunteer instructors provides course instruction.

The conventional firearms course involves attending an instructor-based 16-hour classroom program, including live-fire exercises over a period of two to several days. The bowhunting and trapping courses generally consist of six to eight hours and are completed in one day. Fortunately, times are changing, with more new students growing up in the age of the Internet. As a result, alternatives to the traditional instructional methods are being developed throughout the country. To provide flexibility, Connecticut now offers an option for Home Study in partial fulfillment of hunter education requirements. An Internet-based program that began several years ago allows students to use an on-line course located on the International Hunter Education Association Web site ( Students are required to complete all test sections correctly and attend an eight-hour field skills day, at which time additional topics are covered and on-site testing, live-firing, and student evaluation occurs.
“Students need to understand that home study does not mean that they can cut corners and, in many cases, the amount of study time required for completion will actually increase,” said Charles Bruckerhoff, CE/FS Program Coordinator. “The advantage is that they will be able to complete the requirements on their own time, in the comfort of their own home and in a manner that is convenient for them.”

The Wildlife Division’s Conservation Education/Firearms Safety Program has been provided to over 100,000 students by a dedicated corps of volunteer instructors since 1982. Administration for the program, support staff, and all supplies and materials are funded through the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, commonly referred to as the Pittman-Robertson Act. Funding for the program is derived from a federal excise tax on sporting arms and equipment, which is distributed to the states for use in hunter education, wildlife research, management, and land acquisition.
For information on home study options, visit the DEP website and click on “Calendar of Events.” A complete schedule or information about CE/FS courses is available by contacting the Wildlife Division’s Sessions Woods office (860-675-8130) or Franklin office (860-642-7239). Updated course listings also are available on the DEP Web site.