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Good News for Hunting & Ultimately Guns

I realize that most readers of this blog aren’t hunters. But, if you’re like Sebastian, you may have been invited to go hunting once or twice, but couldn’t give it a try alongside the experienced hunter who invited you because you didn’t pre-plan and sit through an 8+ hour hunter safety course in order to get a license.

Pennsylvania was an early adopter of an apprentice hunting program that allowed experienced hunters to take children out to the woods on a limited license that didn’t require the pre-planning hassle of finding an available hunter ed class. It was wonderful, but it didn’t solve the problem for those who were over 18 and would like to give hunting a try. Recently, the legislature and the Game Commission have set out to fix that problem, and final approval to new regulations is scheduled for April.

It’s great to see some roadblocks to growing the sport coming down, especially when you add in that the Game Commission has been rolling out online hunter ed with only a few hours to do in an actual classroom.

Stories like this don’t just make me think about great news for hunting, but they should get all gun people thinking about barriers to entry for any of their favorite shooting sports and what they can do to help knock them down.

15 Responses to “Good News for Hunting & Ultimately Guns”

  1. KevinC says:

    Arizona’s had this for a while now, and while in theory it’s a good idea, making the connection to a hunter willing to take out others can be quite the challenge.

  2. RP says:

    gun people thinking about barriers to entry for any of their favorite shooting sports

    Damn right. I just talked about this recently so I won’t rant on it now, but we need to worry about barriers to entry for gun ownership period.

    The antis want nothing more than to make it as difficult as possible for new shooters to hunt or compete. Or even own or carry a firearm.

    If I worked for MDA/MAIG, my #1 objective would be tacking on excessive fees, training requirements, etc. For the children!

  3. Dave says:

    Your last paragraph is pure gold…

  4. Clay says:

    I live in South Carolina and I have never heard of any hunter needing a multiple hour training course to obtain a hunting license. Maybe my state is the exception but I think that’s the way it should be everywhere.

    • Bitter says:

      I think you need to take a look at your local regulations. I just checked the SC DNR page, and hunter ed is mandated for folks there similarly to how it required in other states (typically an age cut off, assuming that people born before a certain date have some experience at hunting safely). The class with an instructor is 8 hours. There are other options like an online course and study via CD with an in-person exam at the end, but they all appear to be multi-hour obligations.

      • Clay says:

        I have never hunted myself so I have never had to deal with the hassle. All the hunters I know of hunt on private property and maybe that makes some difference. In any event I have no problem with requiring a license to hunt but these safety courses are asinine.

        • Bitter says:

          I would suggest checking out your state laws before offering up advice on what you assume they might be. A hunting license, obtained by having taken hunter ed, is required for hunting private property, too. I don’t mean to sound rude, but if you’re offering up this speculation to someone who is interested in trying out hunting, even if it’s on private property, you are setting that person up to get into big trouble.

          • Dave says:

            To add to this further, if you’re hunting without a license you should read and reread the game laws of your state. In Pa, poaching can be a serious offense that could results in a felony conviction.

            http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/CT/HTM/34/34.HTM

          • Clay says:

            I’ve never given legal advice on this subject and considering the ever increasing number of confusing laws and rules on this and all other matters I don’t think I will ever try to.

          • Zermoid says:

            PA requires either a State mandated Hunter Ed Course Completion Certificate or a previous year’s Hunting License as proof of passing a Hunter Ed course to buy a PA license.
            Out of State Licenses are also accepted as proof.

    • Heather from AK says:

      I live in South Carolina as well. Hunters ed is required for anyone born after 1979. Licenses are required even on private land.

      In other news, hunters ed is definitely a barrier to entry. I would never have gotten into hunting at all save that I lived in Alaska at the time where hunters ed is only required to hunt in certain areas. Admittedly, Alaska has more leeway in this area since so much of the state is so empty.

  5. Countertop says:

    If this passes (and PA allows a non resident to do it), I get first dibs on taking Sebastian hunting!!

  6. Even in the libertarian utopia of New Hampshire, we require significant hunter education for first-time in-state hunters. So does Maine, and of course Massachusetts. A few months ago I came across an article in an old Field & Stream or Outdoor life that described how Maine investigated hunting accidents, circa 1947. There were 170 a year! And the investigator had to deal with fatal accidents every weekend in season.

    There are nowhere near that many accidents now — almost every one gets front-page local press. My speculation is that hunter education deserves some of the credit. (Also, things like increased awareness, and therefore less popularity, of drunken hunting; and the overall decline in hunting as a sport probably has an effect, unfortunately).

    An accident is usually the result of some headstrong young fellow who didn’t have the patience to learn anything, or some complacent old geezer who knew it all already. They’re always devastated when they shoot somebody, but you can’t put the projectile back in the cartridge.

    Along with the safety basics, which should just be reinforcement for anyone brought up right with guns (reinforcement that one should welcome), a hunter safety course is a vital thing to inform a hunter about the potential minefields in his state’s game laws. An animal viewed as a no-limit varmint in one state could be protected 100 yards away on the other side of the state line. Something as simple as displaying your tag improperly could jam you up with the game wardens. In a well-designed hunter safety course, you learn all this stuff.

    As to whether it’s inane, that’s on the instructor. I spent a long time in the Army and managed to keep guys awake in safety briefings they’d heard 100 times before, and I’m not superman.

  7. dustydog says:

    I’d like to see a version of the hunter safety class be mandatory for police, so they understand the laws they are charged with enforcing.

    My state doesn’t require formal training for hunting on private land (your own or someone else’s, with written permission), but a permit is required for hunting on state or federal wildlife areas. One lifetime permit, people are encouraged to re-take the class every 5 years.

  8. Joe says:

    I think it has been pretty well documented that Hunter’s Ed has resulted in a significant decrease of accidents here in PA. My father-in-law is a hunter and always invites me on trips, but after moving to PA last year I took my time in finally going to one of the classes. Sure, as a veteran and someone who grew up around guns (but not hunting) a lot of it was common sense, but overall I can’t complain too much about it because I still learned a good bit about PA hunting regulations. You also have to keep in mind there are kids taking these classes as young as 11 as judging by the looks of some of their parental units I’m glad they were able to learn safety in a more formal setting.

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