What we call Hunter Education used to be called Hunter Safety. In 1949, New York became the first state to require young hunters to take a hunter safety course. Many hunters didn’t know how to handle firearms safely, and hunting accidents occurred at an alarming rate. To make hunting safer, experienced hunters organized classes to teach others basic safety techniques. It worked. There are now fewer hunting accidents.
Montana began offering voluntary Hunter Education classes in the late 1940s, and in 1957 classes became mandatory for all hunters under the age of 18. Today anyone born after January 1, 1985, must complete hunter education before they can buy a hunting license in Montana.
Hunting, like the public view of it, has changed over the years. As a result, Hunter Education has had to change, too. Safety is still a big part of Hunter Education, but today’s classes also teach responsibility and ethics.