I attended the Hunter Safety Education Course at the Dowagiac Conservation Club hosted by Furmer Reed this past weekend. Furmer is on MUCC’s Board of Directors and happily agreed to mentor me as I am completing my Hunter Education Instructor Certification. Although I obtained my hunter safety certificate over a decade ago as a youth, the material looked to be exactly the same-with the exception of the ever changing hunting laws and regulations. There are some great teaching tools available now, though.
I remember being excited to turn 12 years old so that I could take Hunter’s Safety and get my very own certificate. I know that there is no age restriction to take the course now, but it still took me by surprise to see kids as young as 7 years old attending the course. I guess that promotes a good point; you’re never too young to learn responsible and ethical hunting. Each participant at this course was attentive and eager to participate in group gun handling techniques and field exercises.
There were several other instructors along with Furmer that each brought their own expertise and knowledge to the group. The DNR provides instructors with essential materials and tools to teach the course, but some go above and beyond to help kids get a better visual of certain items such as different firearms, bows, varying ammunition, muzzleloader accessories, furs and other wildlife decoys. The Dowagiac Conservation Club recently acquired a laser shooting simulation system that was a helpful and fun tool for participants in the course to use. They held a pheasant shooting contest and the top three shooters had to re-shoot with “drunk goggles” on.
Tools like these are really great to stress the importance of the topics repeated in Hunter Safety Education. Each kid walked out of the weekend long course with a well-earned certificate and beaming smiles; they were proud of their test scores and new skills to test out in the field. Many kids got to shoot a .22 caliber rifle and a 20 gauge shotgun for the first time as well! I look forward to taking the opportunity to share my hunting knowledge and experience with others and to bring more responsible and ethical hunters to the lifestyle.
I also got to talk about what ethical hunters do to give back with wildlife conservation and habitat improvement. MUCC’s volunteer habitat improvement program has many events scheduled in all regions of the state and a few more pending; stay updated to volunteer for wildlife here! Next up is an event with Midland-Dow High School Conservation Club at the Gratiot-Saginaw SGA on Saturday, February 20th- RSVP here to help clear encroaching trees out of a wildlife opening for a food plot.