July 6, 2008

Md. Hunter Ed Course Goes Cyber

By Michael A. Sawyers, Cumberland Times News, Md.

Jul. 6--If you are 14 or older, you may now study for and take the Maryland hunter education course on the Internet. The passage of the course is required for first-time buyers of hunting licenses.

"We have had take-home book study for the course for about five years now and that has worked very well," said Vic Maccallum, hunter education coordinator for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Maccallum said he anticipates that the Internet version will be a good addition as well.

"We had discussion with our instructors attempting to determine at what age to allow the Internet course. In other words, we asked what age they thought the student could reasonably absorb the material in that fashion," Maccallum said.

With Internet study, the student may take as many practice tests as he or she wants. Then, when the person is ready, the exam may be taken online as well.

"There is a $15 charge," Maccallum. "The DNR gets none of the money. It goes to the company we contracted with to run the program."

Upon passing the course online, the student will receive a document that allows for attendance at a required field day during with firearm handling is covered.

Right now there are 20 field day opportunities set up across the state, according to Maccallum.

Go to www.dnr.state.md.us and then click on Outdoor Activities at the top of the page. Click on Hunter Education and follow the links down the yellow brick road of cyberspace to what will eventually be your first hunting license.

"The instructors found that students who studied the book at home came to the classes very well prepared and we believe that will be the same case online," Maccallum said.

Sgt. Ken Turner of the Maryland Natural Resources Police pointed out that there is no minimum age to take the regular classroom course, which continues to consist of 10 hours of instruction at various locations throughout the state such as fraternal clubs, rod and gun clubs, etc.

Students 12 or younger must be accompanied by an adult. "We don't want the classrooms to be baby sitting services," Maccallum said. "Though we have found that students of all ages are very interested in the course. It's not like they are sitting through English or math class," he said.

Maryland's hunting education certificate, whether it is obtained via Internet, take-home books or straight classroom channels, will continue to be accepted by all the other states, according to Maccallum.


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