On Sunday, February 25th, MUCC partnered with the Michigan Learn to Hunt Program to host a hunter safety course at the Rose Lake Shooting range. If you were born after January 1, 1960, in Michigan, hunter safety is required to purchase a hunting license. A hunter education course is often required if you are planning an out-of-state hunting trip as well even if you were born before 1960.
Traditionally hunter education courses are 2-3 days of classroom instruction followed by a field day. The course teaches participants firearm safety, wildlife biology, the ethics of being a good steward of the land and overall creating safe and responsible hunters. Over 3,000 volunteer instructors certify nearly 20,000 students each year in Michigan.
For the last two years Learn to Hunt and MUCC have worked together to host hunter education courses geared towards adult learners. The hunter education courses are open to everyone but, it has been identified through research that one of the barriers to recruiting new adult hunters is they do not want to take a class surrounded by 50 10-12-year-old students (typical age for hunter safety participants). With this in mind, we have been offering adult-focused classes and have had some success.
Our course this weekend had 11 students signed up. However, due to sickness and unexpected life events, eight of our participants canceled. Our class ended up with only three students. We had three instructors, MUCC OTG Coordinator Sarah Topp, Learn to Hunt Program Coordinator Johanna Dart, and myself. These students were able to take advantage of an unheard of 1-1 ratio. For this adult class, we had the students participate in the online home study program. They must complete an online training course prior to attending the field day portion of the class. This online session also works well for adults who have busy schedules and they can complete the coursework on their own time.
After completing the online course, they join us for the field day. There is a 1-hour review of important concepts and time to answer any questions that may not have been clear during their home study. After the review, the participants take their test. Michigan regulations require a score of 80% or higher to pass the test. All three of our participants scored 92% or higher and were the fastest test takers I have ever worked with.
Upon completion of the test, we had a 30-minute visit from Conservation Officer Slick (Shiawassee County) to talk to the students about being ethical and doing the right thing when no one was watching. He also talked about the important role Law Enforcement Division plays in keeping the woods and waters safe for everyone to enjoy.
As the classroom portion of the morning wrapped up, it was time to move outside. Our participants spent several hours on the range becoming familiar with archery equipment and firearms. We spent time using compound bows and crossbows as well as becoming familiar with and firing shotguns.
At the end of the day, our students earned their hunter safety certificate for successfully passing the course. I am confident these three students will be purchasing their licenses and are excited about spending time in the woods this fall.
For more information about the Michigan Hunter Education program, or to find a class in your area, please visit the DNR website.
To find a class