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Educating Hunters

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Published on: Jul. 2, 2000

Last revision: Nov. 5, 2010

In 1995, after 17 years of living around the country and overseas, my husband and I decided to come home to Missouri. That meant, of course, the time had come for our sons to learn to hunt with their father. Our oldest boys attended the local hunter education course before applying for their permits. When asked about the class he took, all our son said was, "Well, I learned that I don't want to become a statistic."

When the time came for our youngest son to take the hunter education course, I decided I wanted to know more about hunter education. I figured I could use the information when I go hunting with my husband this year.

What I learned in 12 intensive hours of class time can be condensed into one word: Respect. Respect, which is the fourth R in education, is the foundation for every other part of hunter education.

Our hunter education course was taught by Phelps County Conservation Agent Steve Zap, a big man with a boisterous voice. Conservation Agent Larry Evans assisted Steve, and volunteer instructors Johnny Blair and Robert Kelly also contributed valuable help. The class included 20 youths between the ages of 11 and 15 and 20 adults (some young and some not so young).

Most of the adults were men who were planning on turkey hunting. Some of them, too, were planning hunting trips out West. Five parents were attending the class with their children. Rounding out the class was a young married couple who planned on hunting together.

I'd hoped the class was going to be interesting and easy. When Agent Evans told us the test was written for 12-year-olds, I wondered if we oldies were going to have a problem. After all, how many adults think like 12-year-olds?

Our course work featured the three R's-just like in school. Six chapters in a well-illustrated manual made up the reading part of our work. 'Rriting was also required because we had to complete fill-in-the-blank reviews at the end of each chapter. 'Rithmetic factored into the class work equation, too. The kids grasped the rule that the bigger the number, the smaller the size of the bore. They also understood that larger shot numbers indicate smaller shot, unless the number is followed by a B for buckshot.

I was impressed with the quality of the instruction. A former teacher, I know how difficult it can be to keep youngsters' attention. The

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