Hunters must be aware at all times. That was an essential part of the lesson Friday for Hillsboro and Peabody students participating in a hunter education walkthrough at Peabody Country Club, southwest of Peabody.
Awareness is crucial for safety, because a hunter who doesn’t notice another person could accidentally shoot that person while trying to hit an animal, instructor Becki Yoder told students.
At one point in the course, students saw a game animal, but those who noticed a hunter in a treestand behind it knew not to shoot. The walkthrough used wood cutouts of animals.
As they walked the course with decommissioned and clearly marked guns, Yoder reminded the students to keep their guns pointed away from the other hunters in their group.
She also told the students that it is important to be sure whether it is legal to shoot a certain animal.
Some animals, such as crows, can be shot without consequences year-round, Yoder said. Others can be shot only certain times of year or in certain circumstances; for example, hunters can shoot ring-neck pheasant roosters — but not hens — and only when they are in-season.
There were several pop-up cutouts of pheasants along the course. Students had to quickly determine whether it was a rooster and legal to shoot.
Still other animals, such as owls, are protected and cannot be hunted under any circumstances.
During the walkthrough, students were reminded of the importance of hunting only on public land or with an owner’s permission. State Game Warden Marvin Peterson paid a visit to the students to remind them of the need to carry a hunting license with them whenever they go hunting.
He considers hunter education important enough to take time out to help even during the first week of rifle season for deer hunting — one of his busiest times of year. He appreciates that USD 398 and USD 410 make the program available to kids as part of school, he said.
Instruction began the last week of August, and the class meets from 2 to 3:30 p.m. every two weeks, Hillsboro Elementary School Principal Evan Yoder said.
Kansas requires 10 hours of instruction before a student can pass the course, but the schools’ program exceeds that. The class will meet Dec. 18 for the students’ final written exam.
Hunter education is required for any hunter 16 or older in Kansas, except for anyone born before July 1957.
Students also practiced shooting at targets, using BB guns. Another activity involved participating in a presentation about the importance of wildlife management and conservation.
Before the students began those activities, Becki Yoder taught the students about water safety. To demonstrate how quickly cold water can sap a person’s strength, she had two students hold their hands in a tub of water taken from a nearby pond for a short time.
Taytum Miller was one of the volunteers. She said that after a little more than a minute, she couldn’t feel or move her hand until it warmed up again.
Yoder showed the students several types of personal flotation devices, including lifejackets and thrown buoys.
Hillsboro sixth-grader Devin Lamkin said his father was the one who recommended he take hunter education.
“It’s a tradition,” he said. “All generations should do it.”
He wants to hunt pheasant and quail, and he already has a 20-gauge shotgun picked out.
About one-third of the class of 31 students were girls. Instructor Anne Janzen said she sees more girls in the class every year.
“I wanted to go turkey hunting with my dad,” Taytum said.