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.
But hunter safety and education courses can teach budding hunters how to avoid problems in the field.
Area youngsters are invited to take part in a spring Hunt Safe course to be offered in Vermillion on March 26, 27, 29, 30 and 31.
Youth who turn 12 by Dec. 31 can take the classes. Anyone 15 and under is required to attend all sessions of the 10-hour instruction if they want to hunt this fall. Participants who complete and pass the course will receive hunter safety cards. Without the cards, they will not be allowed to hunt.
�The class is not required for anyone over 15, but it is highly recommended because of its importance regarding all aspects of hunting,� said Bruce Plate, one of the instructors.
Registration forms will be available at Vermillion High School, Vermillion Middle School, or by calling Rich Job at 624-9107. They can be filled out the first night, but a parent or guardian must sign the form before youth under 18 can participate.
The first four classes will be held at the Clay County 4-H Center from 7 to 9 p.m. 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.
Instructors, who are certified through the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department to teach this course, include Plate, Job, Tom and Mary Allen, Mike Carlson, Glenn Nelson, Lars Aga and Conservation Officer Mark Patton.
A written test will be given on Friday night, March 30. On March 31, from 9 to 11 a.m., the class will move to the Clay County Trap Club for field demonstrations including live target practice with shotguns. This will be the final test of the Hunt Safe course. The guns and ammunition will be provided but students will be responsible for transportation.
The Hunt Safe course is free and parents are welcome to take the course as well, or sit in on the classes with their kids.
�This isn�t just a course for kids,� Plate said. �We invite and encourage parents to come and participate with their children. And any adult who has never taken the course but plans to hunt in another state that requires a certification card, can get one by taking this class.�