|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2011-08-24                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than six years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [SL]
Aug. 24, 2011
Hunter Education Courses Available Before Dove Opener
AUSTIN --Hunters who need to take the mandatory hunter education course are urged to start looking for courses in their area now as classes are expected to fill up quickly leading up to dove season Sept. 1.
Terry Erwin, coordinator for hunter education at TPWD, said courses are scheduled daily, so he advises interested hunters to check the calendar online frequently for the latest updates of courses in their area. By law, the agency is required to offer the hunter education course at least once in each county every year.
"Nobody in the state should have to drive far to find a course," Erwin said.
Hunters can take the traditional two-day course that must be spread over a minimum of ten hours during that time, or they can opt to take the knowledge-base portion online then attend one day of training in the field. The hunter education course costs $15, but there are often separate facility-use or range fees associated with the course.
To pass the course, students must take a 50-question written exam and get 70 percent correct if they take the traditional two-day course or 80 percent if they take the course online. The certification is valid for life and will be honored in all other states.
A new law created by the 82nd Texas Legislature exempts active duty military and certain veterans from the live fire component of the course.
Anyone born after Sept. 1, 1971, is required to take the Hunter Education Training Course to hunt in Texas, and individuals as young as 9 can take the course.
Because TPWD prints proof of hunter education certification on Texas hunting licenses, hunters who have already completed the course are no longer required to carry their hunter certification cards with them into the field. Hunters who purchase a hunting license prior to taking the course and those who received certification in another state should still carry proof of completion.
Hunters who are at least 17 years old and have not completed the hunter education course can defer completion for one year. However, hunters who took a deferral must complete the course before they can hunt legally this season.
"The deferral is only available once," Erwin said. "The license point-of-sale vendors are not allowed to sell a deferral once it has been purchased by an individual."
A database keeps track of hunters who have previously opted for a deferral and will not allow a second deferral to be sold to an individual.
As a result of hunter education courses, hunting-related accident rates in Texas have noticeably decreased since 1966 when 12 accidents per 100,000 hunters were reported. This rate has decreased to 2.9 accidents per 100,000 hunters during the last four years. In fact, based on 100,000 participants, football players are more than 390 times likely to be injured in their sport than are hunters.
"Our focus is to keep students safe in the field," he said.
Erwin said the agency is also looking for volunteers to become certified instructors of the hunter education course.
For more information on the hunter education program, visit http://tpwd.texas.gov/learning/hunter_education/.

[ Note: This item is more than six years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Robert Owen at 940.445.0203 or robert.owen@tpwd.texas.gov; Chris Holmes at 979.229.2886 or chris.holmes@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Aug. 24, 2011
Learn-to-Camp Program Touching Families' Lives
AUSTIN -- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department suggests setting aside your everyday stresses and frustrations, and spending a relaxing fall weekend camping under the watchful eyes of outdoor experts. More than 1,700 families already have experienced the Texas Outdoor Family program that is helping family members reconnect with each other and experience many of the natural wonders that make Texas a special place.
Close your eyes and imagine a perfect 72-degree evening. Lake waters gently lap against the shore just a few feet from your campsite as you watch the sun begin to slide below the horizon. You hear the crackling of the fire and the laughs of nearby children, and smell a wisp of campfire smoke. For many Texans, such an evening outdoors will conjure up vivid memories of childhood weekends spent camping with their families - a time when they caught their first fish or first paddled a canoe. The Texas Outdoor Family wants to help you rekindle those special memories on an overnight campout with your family in a beautiful state park.
Now in its third year, the how-to-camp program has been touching lives across Texas by making the outdoors more accessible by teaching outdoor skills to instill the confidence needed for families to continue their journey to becoming an "outdoor family." This fall's lineup of state park campouts begins Sept. 10 at Inks Lake State Park in the Hill Country and ends Dec. 3 at Estero Llano Grande State Park in the Rio Grande Valley.
For a fee of $65, families of up to six people are provided all of the camping equipment and instruction they'll need for a comfortable overnight experience. The cost includes park entry fees, campsite rental, a tent, stove, air mattresses, pots, pans, utensils, lantern, an afternoon full of activities catered to each park, and much more. Campers only need to bring their own sleeping bags or cots, and food and beverages.
The outdoor workshops, which can handle up to 20 families, also engender a sense of community. Kids make fast friends with youngsters in their neighboring campsites; parents find comfort in knowing that others are sharing in their first night in the outdoors in quite some time; and park rangers are available throughout the weekend to help demonstrate camp skills and share their knowledge of the outdoors and state parks.
"The Texas Outdoor Family has changed our life" says Jennifer Dunham, a participant and Texas Outdoor Family volunteer. "We've taken the workshops' camping skills and leave-no-trace principles to heart and have continued to camp and enjoy respectfully all that our wonderful state park system offers with a sense of confidence about our abilities. We have grown closer as a family with a shared love of the outdoor adventures that we would not have experienced without this program."
Jennifer is not alone in her sentiment as 94 percent of surveyed participants have already recommended the program to a friend. Join them at one of the 22 workshops happening this fall throughout the state at some of Texas' most treasured parks.
Consider a "stay-cation" by picking a park close to home or set out to find a new Texas favorite in the Hill Country, West Texas, the Rio Grande Valley and beyond. For more specialized adventure, try a special themed Dutch oven cooking workshop. Learn how to whip up "gourmet" dishes over a campfire using at Stephen F. Austin State Park on Nov. 5 or Dinosaur Valley State Park on Nov. 19.
Or plan a two-night outing to take camping to a new level at such perennial favorites as Garner (Sept. 23-24), Buescher (Sept. 30-Oct. 1) and Lake Tawakoni (Oct. 21-22) state parks.
Visit the TPWD website at http://tpwd.texas.gov/texasoutdoorfamily or call (512)389-8903 for more details, dates, and information on how to make a reservation.