Sunday, September 16, 2007

Hunter Safety Class, last day

Today, the last day of Hunter Education, there was less lecture, more practical stuff.

The lecture finished up the bit on trapping and there was some bow hunting info, too. The trapping section was very hands on, as the trapper had a plethora of traps to pass around to try and catch our fingers in. Plus he had examples of pelts he had accumulated. Lots of pelts. Bobcat, fox, raccoon, coyote...

Now I'm a child of the 70's. I got the full indoctrincation, from Bambi, to the Endangered Species Act, to Ranger Rick magazine. Killing critters you don't then eat is bad, mmm'kay? At the back of old 1940's Boy Scout handbooks there were ads for camping equipment, shoes, and, yes rifles. One ad showed a kid shooting a bobcat and being congratulated for ridding the woods of a dangerous pest. That was laughable to me in the 1980's. Because I knew the score as a teenager. I knew then that bobcats and foxes and such would be extinct by the time I was 40 years old. Well, I'm almost 40 now, and coyote are a pest, foxes are plentiful, and there have been black bear sighted inside the District of Columbia. When I was a kid I never saw any wild animals bigger than squirrels except for the occasional dead possum in the road, but only once a year or so. Now I see a couple of NEW roadkills every week, and I see 3 woodchucks and 2 deer nearly everyday on my commute, and the area is much more built up than when I was a kid. Time and experience certainly has made me change my attitude about wildlife. I am still interested in conservation, but not the 'seal humans and wildlife off from each other forevermore' that was pushed on us as kids during the evil evil 70's. And it might not hurt to get a bobcat pelt for myself now and again.

Now poaching and market-hunting, I haven't gone soft on those less-than-savory practices.

After the lecture, there was a nature walk and a fence-negotiation drill. The nature walk showed various decoys and whether they were in shoot or no-shoot situation, they showed how hard it is to even NOTICE a big man in a gilly suit, and they went over some basic tracking of simulated blood trails. Fence-negotiation is just firearms handling and how to get over a fence without blowing yer darn fool head off.

The worst part about this is how woefully unprepared kids are for gun-handling. They just cannot get it into their heads not to point that one end at stuff, even inadvertently. I'd recommend that kids get a lot more range time and a lot more gun-handling time. Even simulated gun-handly. Tam from View from the Porch gave me an idea that you can use on kids. Have them treat EVERYTHING with a trigger as if it is a firearm. Bottle of Windex glass cleaner? Good practice on muzzle control and keeping your finger off the bang switch. Garden hose and a dirty car? If a kid wants to get good enough to go shooting more often he has to point that hose only at legitimate targets (dirty cars, not little brothers) and he has to think about fields of fire and that is behind his target. A kid can be given a bottle of Round-Up to attack weeds on the walk. As an added bonus, while the kid simulates safe firearms handling, parents get a lot of crap cleaned up for free.

I hope the kids are closely supervised on their outings.

After that, a quick jaunt to the range to shoot .22 rifles 5 times. I didn't do too bad, and the shots at the end were better than the first of the 5. All in the paint, at any rate. The sights were those target shooter peep sites and circle at the fore end.

The test was easy. Fifty questions, multiple choice. I might have been able to pass that test even without the class, just cold. Lots of silly answers that can be eliminated quickly: "Conservation is defined as: A) A chat between two people... B) etc." That one made me laugh out loud.

I think most everyone passed. We got our card and everything. Now I just have to apply for the hunting license.

UPDATE: Within half and hour of posting this, I quick step through of the online form and now I have a hunting license on the way. Less than $30.

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