Hunting has been a part of Missouri’s history with Native Americans hunting here even before French Canadian settlers arrived in 1750. During these early periods, elk, white-tailed deer, black bear, upland birds, and waterfowl were all found in abundance, along with predators, such as wolves and cougars, in the state’s diverse landscape. Hunting and trapping for food and furs were necessary for the survival of those early settlers. This way of life was not taught in a classroom but was passed on by family members from one generation to the next.
References to hunter education can be traced back as early as 1906. However, in the post-World War II era of the 1940s, the hunting incident rate showed a substantial increase as the ranks of the hunting fraternity began to swell. Sportsmen and hunters noticed what was happening, leading them to develop the concept of hunter safety education. In 1948, New York initiated the first mandatory hunter safety program for youth 14 and 15 years of age. With help from other groups, formal training began in New York in 1949.
Missouri’s hunter education certification gives new hunters a good foundation and provides a refresher course for veteran hunters. The goal is to produce safe, knowledgeable, responsible, and involved hunters who understand the importance of using firearms safely, learning the history of hunting, complying with hunting laws, and behaving ethically.
Hunter education certification in Missouri is critical to ensuring the effective management of our state’s wildlife populations and the continuation of our hunting traditions.