Summer has just started, but now is the time to start thinking about obtaining hunter education certification – well in advance of fall hunting seasons.

Hunter education courses are available year-round, but most traditional classroom courses and Hunt Safe Sessions are offered in the fall and spring. Mid-August through mid-November is packed with course offerings throughout the state. February and March also offer many classes.

Firearm and bowhunter education covers the safety aspects of firearms and archery equipment, as well as the conservation management and ethics that go with hunting.

“Demand for these classes increases significantly into late September, October and November, so space in these classes can fill quickly,” Hunter Education Coordinator Jackson Ellis said.

In Nebraska, all hunters age 12 through 29 must carry proof of successful completion of a firearm hunter education course when hunting any game species with a firearm or air gun, or proof of successful completion of a bowhunter education course while hunting deer, elk, antelope or bighorn sheep with a bow and arrow or crossbow.

Although hunter education is not required until age 12, students can complete the course at 11. A traditional, 10-hour classroom course for firearm or bowhunter education is available. A 14-hour dual class that includes the curriculum for both firearm and bowhunter education also is offered.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission also offers online hunter education. Students age 16 and older may complete all of the course requirements online. Students age 11 to 15 may also complete their hunter education online, but they also are required to take a two-hour Hunt Safe Session. During the Hunt Safe Session, volunteer hunter education instructors spend face-to-face time discussing the most important safety aspects of the course.

For a listing of posted traditional classroom courses and Hunt Safe Sessions, and information for the online courses, visit huntsafenebraska.org. All traditional classroom courses and Hunt Safe Sessions are free of charge.