January 29, 2024

Misguided Hunter Education Repeal Bill Introduced in Kentucky

Article Contact: Conner Barker,

Why It Matters: It is no secret that hunter participation rates are declining across the country. While it may oftentimes go unrecognized, hunter safety education courses offer young and new hunters the opportunity to learn proper firearm safety and safe hunting practices to take afield. Hunter safety programs serve to keep hunters safe while in the field enjoying our time-honored traditions, while also instilling within sportsmen and women a strong code of ethics to guide their interactions with the natural world.


  • Senate Bill 60, which was introduced in January, would allow residents and nonresidents to obtain a license or permit without taking a hunter education course.
  • Currently, all 50 states require hunter safety education as a prerequisite for obtaining a hunting license, with some exceptions that vary by state.
  • In Kentucky, all hunters born on or after January 1, 1975, must carry proof of a valid hunter’s education certification.

In today’s digital age, many states offer internet based hunter safety education courses that can be completed at the convenience of the hunter. All 50 states that require hunter safety education currently offer an online and self-paced course. Some states, like Kentucky, also require a hunter education range day where hunters can showcase their firearm safety skills and learn how to safely handle a firearm prior to heading afield.

In fact, many states are working to expand opportunities to participate in hunter and firearm safety education. For example, members of the Michigan Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus introduced a pair of bills this month that would create a model firearm safety course for schools to voluntarily offer as an elective course. Similarly, in 2022, West Virginia expanded hunter safety education course offerings beyond high schools to include middle schools.

Also related to hunter safety education, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) led the charge on the bipartisan Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act (H.R. 5110), which was signed into law last year. The bill amended the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which originally had unintended consequences that negatively impacted funding for hunter education, school sponsored shooting teams, wilderness courses, and other educational programs for students.

Recruiting more hunters that have completed a hunter safety education course helps minimize potential accidents in the field. Additionally, while Kentucky and many other states offer apprentice hunting licenses which allow new hunters to hunt under the supervision of an experienced and licensed hunter before completing a hunter education course, these programs do not obviate the need to take hunter education once the apprentice period is over. Instead of repealing hunter education requirements altogether, policymakers in Kentucky could consider expanding the apprentice hunting program, like South Carolina did in 2020, to facilitate more hunting opportunities for new hunters.

CSF does not support this legislation and will continue to stay engaged to support maintaining the current hunter safety pre-requisite requirements in the Commonwealth.

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