In preparation to learn to hunt, we needed to take a Basic Hunter Education course per law in Massachusetts. We opted to take the 2-day independent study version of the class. We attended in person presentations on January 7th and the 21st in Danvers.
We had a homework booklet to fill out in during the middle weeks, and had to hand them in before the second class. This allowed us to spend less time in the classroom and cover the required material. See what we learned on our first hunting trip here: 10 Things I Learned on my First Deer Hunt
Basic Hunter Education
by Mass Wildlife at Danver's Rod and Gun Club
Duration: 2 days (8 hours each)
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Ready to learn yourself? Directory of Hands-On Learning
Review of Hunter Education:
Day 1: AM We covered the legal aspects of hunting. It was boring stuff, but necessary and the instructors did their best to inject personal stories. They also covered the ethical considerations and how to be a respectful hunter.
Day 1: PM After the morning lectures there was a hands-on portion in the afternoon. We broke up in groups and rotated through stations. Including, proper handling of hunting rifles including bolt-action, lever action, and pump action rifles and shotguns.
We practiced walking in groups with proper handling and positioning of the firearm. This hands on portion got us familiar and comfortable with the fake firearms and was a good break from the lectures.
Day 2: AM There was more morning lectures and summary of the homework. The staff did their best to teach the culture of hunting, not just the legal and ethical aspects. They tried to instill the idea of hunting good etiquette as well as hunting best practices.
Day 2: PM We then headed outside on a very cold January day to learn tracking techniques, proper set-up and use of a tree stand. We learned about crossing fences with firearms.
The instructors were inclusive of the diverse age and backgrounds of the students. From the middle-schooler with their parents to the middle-aged first timers; there was a range of students taking the class with us.
Final Exam: At the end of the second day, we needed to pass a written exam in order to receive our certificate of completion. We passed! Of the +100 students in the class, everyone passed except for one middle-schooler who didn't understand some of the wording but passed upon oral examination.
There was the option for extra time on the exam if needed as well as someone to read the question aloud if reading was an issue. The class prepared us very well for the state certification exam.
We even earned a "cool" hunter education graduate patch!
All in all, it's the type of course you take once in your lifetime so you can buy a hunting permit. After that, and a bit of hands on learning there is no need to repeat this class or any similar to it.
Key Take-Aways from Basic Hunter Education:
- Wear your hunter orange.
- Treat every gun as if it was loaded.
- Know where your bullet will go.
- Only shoot if 100% certain it is safe, ethical, and legal.
I will say these classes are not offered very often and tend to fill up fast, so we had to stalk the Mass Wildlife page to learn of new offerings and jump on signing up. They are typically offered after hunting season in December/January/February.
- 10 Things I Learned on my First Deer Hunt
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- Directory of Hands-On Learning