Hunter safety course to be offered; teaches variety of subjects by M. Jill Karolevitz Hunting accidents and violations are all too common � especially when guns, lack of knowledge concerning game laws and inexperience are combined.
By offering a hunter safety and education course to youngsters, conservation officers nationwide hope to teach budding hunters how to avoid problems in the field.
Area youngsters are invited to take part in a spring hunter safety course to be offered in Vermillion on March 27-28, 30-31 and April 1.
�The course is for youngsters who have turned 12 by Dec. 31, 1999,� said Don Soderlund, conservation officer for Clay and Union counties. �They don�t necessarily have to be from Clay or Union counties to come, because anyone 15 and under is required to attend this course if they want to hunt this fall.�
The first four classes will be held at the Clay County 4-H Center from 7 to 9 p.m. On April 1, the class will move to the Clay County Park shooting range for field demonstrations from 8 a.m. to noon. The class is free and attendance at all five sessions is mandatory for participants to receive their hunter safety cards. Without them, they cannot hunt.
�If they cannot make it to one of the spring classes, they will have to come to all of the sessions that we will be offering again this fall in both Wakonda and Vermillion,� Soderlund said.
There is no need for pre-registration, however, Soderlund asks that people call him at 677-6950 for information or if they plan to attend.
�That will help us determine the number of participants we will have,� he said.
In addition to Soderlund, instructors include Tom and Mary Allen of Wakonda, and Rich Job, Mike Carlson, Glenn Nelson, Terry Nelson and Bruce Plate of Vermillion. Subjects to be covered include:
? Hunter safety � Including handling guns in the field, crossing fences;
? Hunting ethics;
? Hunting heritage and early firearm history;
? Firearm safety � Including marksmanship and shooting fundamentals;
? Hunting responsibility;
? Wildlife conservation, management and identification;
? Game care;
? Specialty hunting � Including muzzleloaders, handguns and bow hunting;
? First aid;
? Water safety;
? Special concerns � Including alcohol and drugs, turkey hunting, trapping, all-terrain vehicles, hunting dogs;
? Following the law � Including obtaining permission from landowners, respecting the land, why hunting laws are necessary, game limits.
�This course is not exclusive to this area or South Dakota alone,� Soderlund said. �Every state in the union has something similar. It�s especially important for young hunters because they learn early what to do when they go out in the field. It teaches them to be safer hunters, more ethical hunters. It�s good for them and for other hunters who are out there with them.�