A Kansas Hunter Education class will be held at 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Larned Community Center. Instructor is Mike Seeman, 620-285-6002.
Another class will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Great Bend Police Training Facility (995 K Ave., west of the airport). Instructor is Tim Boxberger.
Classes are free. Students must pre-register at www.safehunters.com/kansas before completing the no-cost online course at www.kdwpt.state.ks.us. The on-line course work could take up to five hours or longer to complete depending on the student’s reading comprehension skills. Students must pass a pre-test of the online materials to attend a field day for the conclusion of the class.
Between now and the opening of pheasant and quail season in November, hundreds of Kansas youths will enroll in Kansas Hunter Education courses. Locally, the classes are almost always filled, says Garet Fitzpatrick, coordinator of leisure programs at the Great Bend Recreation Commission.
This week there were already four students signed up for the next class in Great Bend, even though it isn’t until Oct. 19. Students are also preregistering for a course on Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Larned Community Center.
The fact that classes fill quickly isn’t the only reason to enroll early. These days, most hunter education courses start with an online portion and pre-test before a field day.
Tim Boxberger has been teaching Hunter Eduction in Barton and Russell County for over 20 years.
“Technically, hunters don’t have to have Hunter Education until they turn 16,” he said. (Before 2005, it was required by age 12 for anyone wanting to hunt without adult supervision.) Most responsible parents still want their children to take the class earlier if they plan to hunt. Classes are open to anyone 11 years of age or older. Anyone born after Jan. 1, 1957, must pass Hunter Education to get a Kansas hunting license.
“We’ve done a lot of things to make Hunter Education more user friendly,” Boxberger said. Years ago, students received 10 hours of lecture over three or four days. “That was usually a poor way to get Johnny or Susie interested,” he noted. Now, students take the first four hours of the class online. When they do meet their instructor face-to-face, it’s usually done in one day with a field day that includes minimal lecture and a lot of hands-on learning.
Boxberger’s students have a trail walk, where they carry non-firing wooden guns. They practice the safe way to carrying the gun on the trail, even crossing a barbed wire fence, and when they can or cannot shoot. The trail walk is followed up with a “live fire” exercise at the shooting range. Boxberger’s students each get to fire about 10 shotgun shells, although the type of projectile varies among instructors. In more urban areas, live fire may involve pellet guns – and in some cases the instructor may even use arrows.
“Taking Hunter Education without shooting a gun is like taking a swimming class and not getting wet,” Boxberger said of today’s courses. “It’s a lot different atmosphere than it used to be.”
Young boys aren’t the only ones taking the classes, he noted. Sometimes half of his students are female, and ages usually range from 11 to 45 years old. Boxberger recently had a 60-year-old student. Although he had been a Kansas hunter before they state mandated the Hunter Education course, he was planning a hunting trip in Colorado and learned he would have to pass the course before he could get a license.
Boxberger said the Kansas Hunter Education Course is one of the most respected in the nation. It is offered at no charge, and instructors teach without pay. Under the federal Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937, a percentage of sales on sporting arms and ammunition is used for wildlife conservation and programs such as Hunter Education.