Obtaining a Hunter Safety Certificate During COVID-19

Michigan requires the completion of a hunter education course and field day for individuals to achieve a hunting license in the state. This might be harder to do during the pandemic, as in-person activities have been limited. In today’s blog, we review the basic elements of obtaining a hunter safety certificate and license in Michigan, as well as how to do so during the pandemic.

Michigan’s Hunter Education Course

Recall that in order to purchase a hunting license in Michigan, an individual born on or after January 1, 1960, is required to successfully complete an approved hunter education course. The main purpose of the course is to train safe, legal, and responsible hunters. Courses are taught by a dedicated core of certified volunteer instructors and Michigan conservation officers, and course topics include:

  • wildlife management,
  • wildlife identification,
  • ethics of hunting,
  • state laws and regulations, and
  • firearms safety and handling.

There are two options for completing hunter education in Michigan – the traditional in-person class or the online course. Note that both the traditional course and online course require attendance at a field day. After completing the online course, students have 12 months to complete the field day to complete hunter education.

The Field Day

After students complete the hunter education course, they must attend and complete the field day to officially earn a hunter safety certificate. Note that students choosing the online course followed by the field day must present a copy of their certificate of completion (voucher) of the online course at the start of the field day.

Another option to prepare for the field day instead of the traditional or online course is to complete a take-home test. Students register for the field day and pick up the student manual a minimum of 1 week prior to the field day. Take home study students must complete the chapter review questions and then present them at the start of the field day.

The field day includes the following elements:

  • 4 hours minimum;
  • written test (80% or better to pass) and practice assessment (pass/fail);
  • maximum $10 fee;
  • no minimum age requirement, but students under age 10 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

COVID-19 Special Licenses

Due to COVID-19, eligible hunter education students will be allowed to purchase a Michigan hunting license through June 1, 2021 prior to completing the required field day. To qualify for a temporary hunter education safety certificate, online students must meet one of the following criteria:

  • start the program on or after Sept. 10, 2019 and complete it by June 1, 2021; or
  • already have completed the online program but not yet a field day.

Eligible students will be able to print their temporary certificates from their online student portal. Students need to present their temporary certificates when purchasing licenses.

Note that anyone who receives a temporary hunter education safety certificate will be required to complete a field day by June 1, 2021, or within 12 months of completing the online course – whichever date comes later – to receive their permanent hunter education safety certificate.

Due to COVID-19, the state has temporarily postponed the traditional classroom hunter education class, so those who would like to complete hunter education now default to the online or take-home study course which includes an in-person field day.

Field days are currently being offered, and while the requirement has loosened for a temporary certificate, students are still encouraged to complete a field day as soon as possible to obtain their permanent certificate.

General Safety Reminders and Firearms Guidelines

Michigan advises hunters to abide by general safety guidelines:

  • notify someone the specific time, duration, and location that you will be hunting and schedule check-in times;
  • update your contact info and location if plans change; medical incidents are unplanned;
  • hunt with a partner and know your zone-of-fire;
  • carry an accessible 2-way communication device that receives service in remote areas (e.g. phone or 2-way radio);
  • wear a life jacket if hunting near water.

It is also important to smartly handle your firearm during the hunt. While hunting, it is best to:

  • keep the safety of your firearm on until you are prepared to take your shot;
  • treat every firearm as if it is loaded;
  • keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times;
  • be aware of your surroundings – know your target and what is beyond it;
  • put your finger on the trigger only when you are ready to shoot;
  • not use your scope as binoculars (only point your firearm at something you intend to shoot);
  • unload the firearm when crossing obstacles and/or getting in or out of a tree stand;
  • check the barrel and ammunition to ensure they are clear from any obstructions;
  • not drink alcohol or use any mind-altering substances (marijuana, medication) when hunting;
  • unload and securely store firearms in the home separate from the ammunition;
  • unloaded and secure firearms in a case when transporting them in a vehicle.

Contact White Law PLLC for Further Guidance

If you are interested in obtaining a hunter license in Michigan right now, the state is offering temporary certificates due to the pandemic. However, it is still critical that you find the time to participate in a field day to secure your permanent license. Speak with our firm if you have specific legal questions about obtaining a hunter certificate and license.

Contact us at White Law PLLC for more information today.