Oct 5, 2010

Hunting, Part 1: Hunter Education

Weer'd asked for a primer on hunting, and that's a tough request. Rattling off equipment is easy. Telling someone to hunt the wind is fine. Talking about following a blood trail is simple. Explaining shot placement is basic anatomy.

Actually doing these things in the real world? That's a whole new ball game, but I'll give it a go. This would be a HUGE post if I tried to write it all at one go, so I'll try to break it into manageable chunks over the next few days.

I'll also preface this entire series with a disclaimer: I've been hunting for about six years. I'm far from an expert, but those six years have accounted for, quite literally, hundreds of days and thousands of hours in the woods and fields. I'll write what I know, and tell you what I think.

First off: every state has a wildlife department. The exact name varies from state to state. Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Natural Resources, Fish and Game Commission, Fish and Wildlife Commission, and so forth. In New York, it's the first, usually referred to as "DEC" or "EnCon". (Also known as the Possum Cops or Twig Pigs, but you better smile when you say that, pardner.) I'll be using DEC in this, for the sake of brevity.

The first place you need to start is with a Hunter Education course. As far as I know every state in the Union offers these, usually free of charge. (They are free in NY; if someone tries to charge you for one, call the DEC and report it.) To find one, contact your local DEC office or check their web site. Many sporting goods or gun stores will keep a bulletin board up with upcoming classes; keep an eye on those as well.

Usually running about 10 hours, they will cover basic hunter safety. Not simply gun safety, but safety in tree stands, when hunting with partners, walking, a bit of technique, ethics, etc. They'll cover laws regarding hunting, property rights, and so forth. Make sure you thank your instructor, since they are volunteers. They're trying to pass on their own love of the outdoors and foster another generation of sportsmen.

When you finish your hunter safety class, you'll get a small piece of paper showing that you passed. SAVE THIS PAPER. To my knowledge, there is national reciprocity for hunter education, but you must have that piece of paper to prove you took the class; a hunting license from another state is not sufficient proof.

Now, it's time to go get your license...

No comments: