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High Demand Allows Gator Skeet and Trap Club to Offer Hunting Safety Course

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People born after June 1, 1975 must pass the hunter safety course in order to obtain a hunting license. The Gator Skeet and Trap Club will offer this course March 15.
People born after June 1, 1975 must pass the hunter safety course in order to obtain a hunting license. The Gator Skeet and Trap Club will offer this course March 15.” credit=”Photo courtesy of FWC website

Alachua County residents can now learn more about hunting safety with the help of the Gator Skeet and Trap Club.

The club will offer a hunter safety course for the first time March 15.

“It’s a service that we’re providing to the community in order for people to get their hunter safety card, which will allow them to go out and purchase hunter licenses,” said Alex Rennert, manager of club.

The number of total hunting license tags, permits and stamps has increased by 15.2 percent in Florida in the last 10 years, according to a report by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

Ninety-seven students graduated from the safety program in 2013, and 64 graduated in 2014, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975 must pass the hunter safety course, in order to obtain a hunting license.

Steve Robbins, the regional hunter safety coordinator of the north central region for the FWC Commission, believes the high demand comes from the rural area and the locavores, a community of people who eat locally sourced food.

Tony Young, FWC Commission media relations coordinator for hunting and game management, said the course is available in an all-classroom setting or can be taken online. Participants must also attend a mandatory field-day class.

Robbins said the attendees are able to experience real-world hunting scenarios during the field day. This includes handling dummy firearms and determining when and what to shoot.

The FWC also added activities to the course curriculum, including the dilemma card. This is when small groups get a scenario and a chance to discuss how the individuals would handle the hypothetical situation.

Robbins believes that the recent improvements to the program have made a difference in the effectiveness of the program. The ability to take a written portion of the exam online gives people more time to experience the field day, he added.

“What we’ve done is made an effort to have the kids and all of the attendees have more hands-on experience in the classes,” Robbins said.

Captain Brad Smith of the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office said he believes the hunter safety course is very effective in preventing hunting accidents. People are safer and gain a better respect for the outdoors, he said.

“In the last couple of years, we have been very fortunate to not see many hunting accidents,” Smith said. He added that most accidents occurring in the woods are with off-road vehicles, as opposed to gun accidents.

Robbins said safety is the number one concern in the course, but teaching courtesy is important, too.

“We really concentrate on that through the entire course and make sure that students know if they walk into a restaurant with bloody hunting clothing, it can have an adverse effect on the people around them,” Robbins said

The hunter course has no age requirement, but a person must have a certain maturity level to understand the power of the weapons they are handling, he said. He finds it easier to teach a younger person safety techniques, as opposed to an adult.

“We would rather mold a young person into a way to do things right than break an older person of bad habits,” Robbins said.

The dates for the courses in different counties are available in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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