Maryland DNR Hunter Safety



The Breakdown

We have had a few readers email us with questions regarding Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources Hunter Education classes and their options.  So...we thought that we would provide our readers with a breakdown of the process and provide you links to all of the resources that you need to get started.

One thing that brings all hunters together whose permanent residence is within the state of Maryland is the required Hunter Education and Safety requirement.  Whether you are a new hunter at the age of 8 or 88, we all have to go through the same program that ensures that we have passed the requirements set by law to be able to hunt and operate a firearm in a safe manner that ensures the safety of the hunters and those around them.  I like to think of Hunter Education as a rite of passage into the hunting community.

Why Do We Take Hunter Education?   

So why do we have to take Hunter Education?  The course is taught with safety in mind and believe it or not that is why we all must take a Hunter Education course before we obtain a hunting license.  The Maryland DNR combined with the Maryland State legislature to reduce the amount of hunting related accidents.  In 1966, Maryland DNR rolled out a voluntary Hunter Education course and by 1977, the Maryland State legislature voted to make it a mandatory law that all new hunters will complete a Hunter Education course.  It’s no surprise that hunting in Maryland is now a safe sport for all involved.

What Will Hunter Education Teach Me and What are the Requirements?

The Maryland Hunter Education Course is a minimum of 10 hours in length. Most classes run 12-14 hours. Students must attend all sessions of the class to pass. Most courses require that youngsters under the age of 14 attend with a participating adult.


The course includes instruction in: hunter responsibility, firearms and ammunition, firearm handling and safety, marksmanship and shooting fundamentals, principles of wildlife management, bowhunting, muzzleloader hunting, tree stand safety, safety and first aid, water safety, and Maryland legal requirements.


In order to pass the course, students must pass a 50 question multiple choice test with a grade of 80%, demonstrate to the instructor that he or she can safely handle a firearm through practical exercises and participate in live firing. Students must also be recommended by the instructor to obtain certification by demonstrating responsibility and the maturity to be a safe, responsible and ethical hunter.


I Have Choices??? Multiple Ways to Complete the Course


Yes, you have choices; there are three ways to take the Hunter Education course: over multiple days at designated locations, or independent based study through the internet or workbook with a one day class after completion.  I will explain each in a little more detail and give you links to the Maryland DNR webpage for all the course listings.


The first method is in the classroom from 2 through 4 days depending on the location that you choose.  Course listings for available classes are found on the DNR website under Course Listings.  During these classes, you will learn everything that you need to be successful.  Once you pass the firearm exercises and the 50 question test, you will be ready to hunt!


The next choice is independent study through a workbook.  The Home Workbook course requires that the student complete a workbook based on information provided in the hunter education student manual. Once the student has successfully completed the workbook, the student must complete a mandatory, one day, Hunter Education Field Day Workshop which includes lectures, hunter safety skills demonstration, range skills demonstration, including live firing, and a final exam in order to complete all state requirements. You must bring your completed workbook and all materials to the Hunter Education Field Day Workshop to continue with the course.  Your workbook will be evaluated by the instructors and if it is not complete, you will not be allowed to continue with the course.  You must be 16 years or older to complete Hunter Education through this method.


The final choice is independent study through the internet.  You must be 16 years of age or older to participate in this program. Upon successful completion of the Internet course, you will be issued a voucher to attend the field day workshop. (You print this voucher on your printer) The Internet course procedures are as follows:

  • The internet website is operated by a private vendor.
  • Students may work through the internet course, and take a pre-test at no cost. There is no time limit.
  • When the student is ready to take the 75 question final exam. A fee of $15.00 must be paid to the online vendor.
  • All course content and chapter reviews must be completed prior to taking the final online exam.
  • The 75 question exam must be passed with a minimum score of 80 % in order to obtain a voucher that qualifies you to attend a mandatory a Maryland Hunter Education Field Day Workshop.
  • After passing the online test, you will then print out a voucher on your home computer.

You can find additional information about the independent study programs at the following links:


Hunting License and Requirements

To hunt or purchase a hunting license in Maryland, State law requires:

  • Presentation of a Certificate of Competency in Firearms and Hunting Safety (required for junior licenses), or
  • Certification that you held a hunting license issued prior to July 1, 1977, or
  • Certification that you hunted on private property prior to July 1, 1977, and were legally exempt from purchasing a hunting license, or
  • Certification that you are purchasing a nonresident license and will only hunt waterfowl.

To make it simple, if you are taking a youngster…then yes, they need to take and pass the Hunter Education course and have a valid hunting license.  And yes…even if they are under 16…all ages need a license.  Next, if you are old enough that you could have hunted in 1977 but you didn’t…then yes, you too need to take Hunter Education to purchase a license.

In order to purchase a hunting license in Maryland, you must have valid identification and your Certificate of Competency in Firearms and Hunting Safety card.  This card contains a number that is unique to you and issued after completion of the course.  If you do not have your card with you at the time of purchase, you can be issued a temporary license that is only valid if the Certificate of Competency in Firearms and Hunting Safety card is present with the hunting license while hunting.  Otherwise, bring your Certificate of Competency in Firearms and Hunting Safety card with you to get a regular license that would be valid in its own right because your Hunter Education number would be entered into the DNR system at time of purchase.  You can purchase your hunting license (after you complete the Hunter Education requirement) at any valid retailer (i.e., Walmat, Bass Pro, Dick’s Sporting Goods, etc.) or you can purchase a license online.

Andy chooses to purchase his license online, while I prefer the formality of going to a retailer. It’s all up to your preference.  In each case, you will receive your Hunting license, field tags, and the Hunting and Trapping in Maryland Guide will be included in your purchase.  If you choose to order your license online, you can do so at the Maryland DNR Sport License Sales webpage.  A convenience fee of $1.00 will be charged to you, along with a mailing fee (if applicable) and 2.5% of the purchase price.  To calculate how much these fees would be, check out the DNR Before You Begin page for calculation examples.  The advantage of purchasing your license online is the convenience of not having to trek to the store, and the fact that it is valid and you can start hunting as soon as you print it out.  You will receive a copy of your license, a harvest record, and the Hunting and Trapping in Maryland Guide in the mail as well.  You can also access an electronic copy of the Hunting and Trapping in Maryland Guide online at the Maryland Guide to Hunting and Trapping webpage.

I hope that this article answered some of your questions about the Hunter Education requirement for residents of Maryland.  Even though hunting season is fast approaching, there are still plenty of dates left for September and October.  So if you, a friend, or a child is thinking about hunting this season, go ahead and get the Hunter Education course under their belt.

If you have any further questions, feel free to comment below or email us at

1 Response

  1. Jim Turso
    I was registered for a Bow Hunting course in Carroll county orginally scheduled for August 20th. It was changed to September 17 (I recall, maybe incorrectly) and I was registered for that, but I can't find the location I scribbled down on a piece of paper. Does anyone know of this course offering, and if you do please forward me the name/phone number of the person offering it. Thanks very much. Jim

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