Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Safety & Much More in Hunter Education

"It would suit me if I never had to knock on another door to tell someone about a hunting accident," said Ryan Bass, speaking to 70 or so mostly young Hunter Education students at Mt. Airy Baptist Church in Easley, South Carolina.

A conservation officer for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Bass has had to knock on too many of those doors through the years, and he's had to be on the scene far too many times after incidents that could have been prevented. He's also heard first-hand the complaints of countless landowners and members of the public whose views of hunting had been badly shaped by some hunter's lack of consideration for the game, the land or other peole. Therefore, he spoke directly throughout the day, ever-blending practical information and strong messages about safety, conservations and ethics.

Like many in the room, I suspect, my attendance had been motivated at least in part by legal requirements. I did want to learn things together with Nathaniel before he and I chose to go afield, but whether or not we would have committed a whole Saturday had we not needed to in order to meet licensing requirements, I cannot say for sure.

Either way, we were there, and I'm glad. Bass did a great job with the class, and we came away not only with certification but with a much better understanding of many things we need to know. I was also very impressed by the materials we were given to take home. Today's Hunter - A Guide to Hunting Responsibly and Safely, which is published by Kalkomey Enterprises, is an illustration-intensive 100-page guidebook to hunting equipment, skills, safety and ethics, complete with study questions for each chapter and far more detail than can be covered even in a full day in the classroom. Nathaniel and I are reading a chapter per day as an immediate follow-up to the class.

Of course, I know that the Hunter Education class and the book only form a foundation for our hunting education. Most learning will occur in real life as we prepare for and participate in hunts and invest time learning from others who can share from a deep pool of experience. I'm thankful to work in an industry where I am surrounded by so many great teachers!

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