Parks And Wildlife Code
Hunter Education Program
(a) In this section:
"Firearm" means any device designed, made, or adapted to expel a projectile through a barrel by using the energy generated by an explosion or burning substance or any device readily convertible to that use.
"Archery equipment" means a long bow, recurved bow, or compound bow.
The department may establish and administer a statewide hunter education program. The program must include but is not limited to instruction concerning:
the safe handling and use of firearms, archery equipment, and crossbows;
wildlife conservation and management;
hunting laws and applicable rules and regulations; and
hunting safety and ethics, including landowners' rights.
The department shall issue a certificate to a person who has successfully completed a hunter education course. The department shall prescribe the form of the certificate.
If funds are available for its implementation the commission may establish a mandatory hunter education program and may require a person to have successfully completed a training course before the person may hunt with firearms, archery equipment as defined in Subsection (a) of this section, or crossbows in Texas. If the certificate is so required, the person must possess the certificate or other evidence of completion of the program while hunting with firearms, archery equipment as defined in Subsection (a) of this section, or crossbows. The commission may provide that residents or nonresidents who have successfully completed the same or a comparable hunter education course and possess a certificate or other evidence of completion have satisfied the requirements imposed under this subsection. The commission may establish a minimum age for participation in the program. Those persons who cannot participate in the hunter education program because they do not meet the minimum age or other requirements established by the commission can only hunt with firearms, archery equipment as defined in Subsection (a) of this section, or crossbows in Texas if they are accompanied by a person who is 17 years of age or older and licensed to hunt in Texas. Additionally, a person under 17 years of age hunting with a person licensed to hunt in Texas who is 17 years of age or older is not required to have certification under this Act.
The commission may implement the program by age group. Persons who are 17 years of age or older on September 1, 1988, or on the date on which a mandatory hunter education course is implemented, whichever is later, are exempt from the requirements imposed under this subsection.
The department is responsible for offering mandatory hunter education courses that are accessible to those persons required to take this course. To this end, the department shall provide hunter education opportunities in each county of the state when a substantial number of residents request a class or at least once a year.
The commission may maximize the utilization of volunteer instructors to minimize the costs of the course and is authorized to charge a fee not to exceed $15 to defray administrative costs. Fees collected under this subsection, less any instructor expenses approved by the department, shall be deposited to the credit of the game, fish, and water safety account. The commission by rule may establish a procedure to allow a volunteer instructor to retain an amount from the fees collected by the instructor under this subsection to cover the instructor's actual and necessary out-of-pocket expenses.
The department shall determine qualifications for instructors in the hunter education program and shall recruit, train, and certify instructors for the program.
The department may cooperate with educational institutions, local governments, individuals, or organizations interested in hunter education in administering this section. The department may accept gifts, grants, and donations to be used in administering this section.
The commission shall adopt rules to implement the hunter education program.
The commission may establish an incentive program to encourage citizens to participate in the program as instructors.
A person who violates any provision of this section or any proclamation or regulation of the commission issued under the authority of this section commits an offense.
If the commission requires a person to possess a certificate issued under this section and if the person is charged with a Class C Parks and Wildlife Code misdemeanor for failing to possess the required certificate, the person may present to the court not later than the 10th day after the date of the alleged offense an oral request or written motion to take a hunter safety training course.
If a person requests a hunter safety training course as provided by Subsection (d) of this section, the court shall defer proceedings and allow the person 90 days to present written evidence that, after being charged with failure to possess the certificate, the person has successfully completed a hunter safety training course approved by the department. If a person successfully completes the course and the evidence presented is accepted by the court, the court shall dismiss the charge.
It is a defense to prosecution under this section for failure to possess a certificate that the person charged produces in court a certificate issued to that person that was valid on the date of the alleged offense.
The following persons are exempt from any requirement to complete the live firing portion of a hunter education course under this section:
an honorably discharged veteran of the United States armed forces; or
a person who is on active duty as a member of the United States military forces, the Texas Army National Guard, the Texas Air National Guard, or the Texas State Guard.
Added by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 276, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 31, 1987. Amended by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 679, Sec. 43, eff. Sept. 1, 1993; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 732, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1256, Sec. 84, 85, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.
Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 955, Sec. 1, eff. June 17, 2011.