I had a long week. By Friday afternoon i was exhausted mentally and physically so when I finally got back home, I grabbed my bow and headed out to the woods. I’ve been following this buck (pictured above) on camera for several weeks now so i was hopeful but he didn’t show. I did watch a doe and two fawns graze in the pasture for a while but honestly I was just happy to get out there and relax.
Last week I finished by talking about my sister and a family friend who took the hunters safety course. Today I want to get into exactly what made me uneasy. In an informal interview with the family friend, who is 20 years old but wished to remain anonymous, I got firsthand account of what occurred during the four day course. I started the interview by asking “After taking the Hunters Safety Course, do you now feel properly educated to safely and legally hunt on your own?” The response I got was quick, “No.” Let that sink in for a moment. The state of Maryland feels like it did its job however, my friend felt inadequately prepared. Shocked is an understatement of what I felt at that moment.
As we got more in depth into the interview, I asked what was the main reason for feeling unprepared. Again, the response was alarming. My friend said that the instructors, particularly with the written test portion, almost coaxed the students to the correct answers. So not only did my friend not feel confident with the material but when that became apparent, they gave my sister and friend the answers. When they told me this story, I remembered almost the exact situation happened to me when I took the course. I guess I can understand why the instructors would want the students to pass on the first try. The students don’t want to retake the course, however if a better understanding of the material is what it takes to prevent an accident, then it is well worth it to retake the course.
To finish the interview I asked my friend to give me some of the hardest parts of the test. One thing the instructors required the students to do was to carry a fake gun during the first day of the outdoor training. They had to carry the weapon for the duration of the training and were to take note of where they would end up pointing it. My friend said, on multiple occasions without even realizing, the weapon would be aimed at another person and once my friend even hit my sister with the fake gun. It seems simple to me to watch where you are pointing the gun but to someone with little experience and apparently the majority of hunters involved in accidents, it is not so simple. According to the International Hunter Education Association, roughly 65% of the self reported hunting accidents in 2007 were a direct result of mishandling or careless use of a firearm. This statistic scares me.
Overall, I learned a lot from my first interview and through some preliminary research. I’m glad you’ve decided to embark on this journey with me and I look forward to sharing my findings with you.
Until next week,