On-line courses allow individuals to work through the basics at their own pace, and do not include access to instructors or any firearm handling practice. The state-approved course is commercially provided and is not administered by the VDWR; a cost is associated with ALL on-line options. Visit the DWR page for more information.
Both options, when completed successfully, provide a certificate recognized for hunting requirements by ALL US states and Canadian provinces (some exceptions for bowhunting, which may require IBEP certification). For more information, go to the links above or call the Hunter Education Office at (804) 367-2901 or (804) 367-1147.
Bowhunters face a different set of challenges in relation to a hunter using firearms, and also have some advantages over firearm users. Archery season for many species in Virginia opens before any firearm season, and out-of-season opportunities are often available through special urban archery efforts in areas of higher population density (for both people and animals). Some localities, private hunt clubs, and government facilities require proof of completion of a bowhunter education class in addition to a basic hunter education class. Many of Virginia’s certified hunter education volunteers also teach the International Bowhunter Education Program (IBEP), a bowhunter education course developed by the National Bowhunter Education Foundation (NBEF).
Just like basic hunter education classes, bowhunter education opportunities are available in person or online.
In-person classes give students the opportunity to interact and learn from experienced hunter-instructors, practice safe use of archery equipment, and meet other like-minded individuals. In-person IBEP Classes through the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources are always FREE. Visit the DWR page for information on how to register and obtain the free material for the self-study portion.
On-line courses allow individuals to work through the basics at their own pace, and do not include access to instructors or any archery equipment use or practice. The state-approved course is commercially provided and is not administered by the VDWR; a cost is associated with ALL on-line options. Visit the DWR page for more information.
Tree stand education
A severe injury can happen from even a short fall – less than 3 feet! Learning how to correctly use a safety harness and understanding what makes a tree stand safe are critical to going home in the same condition as when you left.
All stands and harnesses are not created equal and are not designed with the same features. Trees, ladders, platforms, and climbing stands each have their own advantages and risks. Proper selection, use, and regular maintenance means a safer hunting experience. Harnesses have weight limits, expiration dates, and come in different sizes and styles to fit hunters of all ages, weights, genders, and types of use.
There’s a lot to learn and if you plan to hunt from ANY elevated platform, it’s important to find out how to do it safely. We can help!
VDWR sponsors a team of trainers offering instruction in all aspects of treestand safety. The volunteers are National Bow Hunter Education certified and also teach the NBEF treestand safety course. The team also trains all Virginia Hunter Education instructors in treestand safety, put on public education displays at major hunting shows around the state, and teach and promote treestand safety at hunting workshops and hunter events. If you are interested in having a class available in your area, or have an event you’d like the team to attend, contact Ken Carter at firstname.lastname@example.org or (804) 382-2982
For videos, safety tips, information on ladder stands, and recall information visit https://dwr.virginia.gov/hunting/education/.
VAHEA works with partner facilities across the state to offer unique hands-on half-day, full-day and weekend workshops creating opportunities to learn skills beyond the basic hunter education classes.
Topics touch on all aspects of hunting (including but not limited to):
- Mentored duck, pheasant, or deer hunts
- Workshops on turkey hunting, waterfowl skills
- Field to Table deer processing and cooking
- Next level bowhunting weekends
- Treestand use and safety
We also work with DWR to develop new hunting-related workshops if we find there’s public interest. If there’s a topic you’d like to learn more about and don’t see it here, contact us to find out if we have a program available.
Our partners include Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center and Shady Grove Kennels. If you have a facility and are interested in working with VAHEA to offer classes or workshops please contact the appropriate VAHEA Regional Director.
hunter skills weekends
Virginia Hunter Skills Weekends (VHSW) were created in response to the frequent questions instructors received during basic hunter education classes. Graduating students wanted to know where they could go or to whom they could talk to start learning more about the basics. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources and Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox, VA partner with VAHEA to offer this unique outdoor educational weekend.
VHSW are hands-on, engaging, family-friendly events open to ages 11-90+. Participants work in small groups to learn new skills, receiving top-notch instruction from the state’s finest volunteer hunter education instructors. Participants choose from a variety of topics in each of three (3) 4-hour sessions over a Saturday and Sunday. All sessions provide a combination of classroom and hands-on learning designed to appeal to hunters at all skill levels. Live-fire classes cover archery, shotgun, rifle, bow fishing, muzzleloading, skeet, and upland hunting techniques. Other content includes skills in bear hunting, deer hunting, turkey hunting, tracking, recovering wounded game, game processing, survival, bow hunting, and more. Casual evening events may include a workshop on how to make or paint a duck decoy, a knife-sharpening session, after-dark fun shooting at candles with a muzzleloader or making s’mores around a campfire.
Topics vary from year to year in order to keep the curriculum “fresh,” and instructors strive to continually improve the students’ classroom and outdoor experiences. Event coordinators Anthony Carambia, Aaron Grimsley and Wendy Hyde use participant feedback to plan future events and consider new subjects. Registration cost varies annually and covers six (6) meals, two (2) nights lodging, all instruction and use of equipment.
Here’s what participants have to say about the program:
- “There is so much hands-on learning. That’s the best part. Courses structured with lots of practice are the best!”
- “I have a son that wants to learn to hunt, but I don’t have the knowledge or skills to pass to him. This is a great program to help give him the knowledge and skills to get started.”
- “This was exactly what I was hoping for as an adult that did not have the luxury of growing up around hunting.”
- “As a newcomer to the hunting culture, I have to compliment all of the instructors on their professionalism and enthusiastic approach to teaching all levels. As the ‘first line of defense’ in engaging a novice, they do an amazing job of increasing interest level and desire to continue learning more.”
Visit the Holiday Lake 4-H Education Center for full information on this year’s event.