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What you should know about North Dakota hunter safety courses

Before the hunt can begin, enthusiasts must complete mandatory education requirements.

Before obtaining a hunting license a hunting education must be complete that is offered by the Game and Fish Department. (Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press)

North Dakota’s population hit a record high of 779,094 residents on April 1, 2020, and the state had the fourth-highest growth rate in the nation by percentage from 2010 to 2020, census figures show.

Many of the newcomers have come to the state seeking economic stability and a quality of life that continues to rank among the top in the nation. Those who have come to the Great Plains state often seek to take advantage of the many tremendous outdoor opportunities across the broad prairies, steppe, temperate savanna, badlands and farmlands that stretch from Canada to South Dakota, and from Minnesota to Montana — especially for hunting.

While some states require varying degrees of hunting education, many states have more lenient systems in place than North Dakota and some may be unaware of the requirement of hunter safety.

The goal of hunter education is to train safe, responsible and law-abiding hunters. The first-ever mandated hunter education program began in New York in 1949 to reduce hunting incidents. Today, nearly every state in the U.S. requires some form of educational training to hunt.


Hunting has strong roots in the Dakotas and goes hand-in-hand with a culture of conservationism and even the economy of the state. To hunt in North Dakota, an education certificate is required and offered by the state's Game and Fish Department and in order to obtain a firearm or bow hunting license, a certified hunter education course must be taken for anyone born before 1961.

Of course there are always the exceptions, which include children younger than 12 years old with direct supervision of a parent, guardian or adult authorized by such; people who have attained an apprentice hunting license or those who hunt exclusively on their owned or operated land.
The hunting education course offered by the Game and Fish department. The bowhunter certification and the fur harvester education programs are not requirements or substitutes for the hunting education course, but provide hunters with excellent opportunities to further their education and safety.

There were two hunter education classes available late this year and more scheduled for the spring and summer months as the most popular of the hunting seasons loom. Classes can be found on the Game and Fish government webpage .

After receiving the required education certificate, a license may be purchased for either residential or nonresidential hunters at a minimal fee.

Both would call for a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate, a general game and habitat license and the specific license for the species they will be hunting. There is a difference between the two options with regard to the price as nonresidential licenses cost $2 for the certificate and significantly larger amount for the particular game they are hunting. For nonresident big game, prices can range from $250 - $600, where residential licenses range between $5 - $30.

In order to be eligible for a residential license, an applicant must be a citizen of North Dakota for the previous six months prior to applying.

If for any reason a hunter education card is misplaced or lost, a new one can be reprinted through the department’s online services.

Game and Fish webpage offers an alert notification system for when new classes are up for enrollment and can be utilized with an email or phone number.

Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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