Sunday, January 20, 2019

Hunter's Education

When I was a kid, about 10 or 11, I remember going to Hunter's Education as part of my transition into a young adult. Becoming one of the boys that got to participate in hunting trips was a big deal in my family and it made the weekly class with my instructor named Rusty bearable. When it came time for Atley to do his Hunter's Ed there was an online course that we went through together which made me appreciate how my Dad went to class each week with each of his six kids. Once the 9 unit online course was completed, Atley then had to spend a morning completing the field day at the rifle range and taking the written test. 


It's probably just because Caden's my baby boy, but it still seemed surreal that it was his turn to go through the Hunter Education program. The program has changed quite a bit in the few years since Atley took the course and Caden was able to do his all in one day. We started the day out by dropping by the hardware store and purchasing his voucher that upon completion of the course becomes his hunting license. The classroom was pretty full with about 50 students and their parents, undoubtedly the upcoming Big Game Draw is motivating people to get it done. 

The classroom portion really focused on gun safety, which is good, but didn't talk too much about other skills usually included in the course. Things like game identification, habitat, carrying capacity, hunting techniques, and wilderness survival were either glassed over or ignored completely. I knew that there was no way to fit everything into a single day, but I had hoped for more. Fortunately, the things that were covered were presented in a very easy to understand and memorable way. As I write this we're a week removed from the class and Caden still remembers the two most important rules, "Control your muzzle and treat every gun as if it's loaded." 

He put these into practice as we moved into the shooting portion of the class at the rifle range. The highly structured process that each student goes through ensures safety and I was glad to see Caden act so responsibly with a firearm without any help from me. After the shooting we headed back into the classroom where Caden took the written portion of the test and then went through a field experience where he assessed the safety and efficacy of different shooting opportunities. 


I know that Caden learned a lot, but we still have a long way to go and will continue working on his outdoor and safety skills for years to come. I appreciate the effort that our Division of Natural Resources is making to lower the hurtles for new hunters, I just hope that they learn enough to be safe in the field. I'm excited for the opportunities to experience the outdoors with my sons this upcoming year!

Hope you're as lucky,
Kidder

To sign up for Hunter's Education in Utah go to: https://wildlife.utah.gov/hunter-education.html