By Chuck Nottingham
"Are hunter education courses free?"
"Can non-hunters and non-shooters take hunter education?"
"What about adults?"
"Will my kid get a hunter education certificate in time to draw for an antelope permit?"
"Why don't you give hunter safety' in October like they used to?"
Yes, hunter education is free to all participants. Volunteers teach the programs, and hunter/shooter/angler-generated funds pay for the basics. Extras such as our community's requirement for each participant to safely handle and shoot seven different .22 actions are paid for by generous community donations.
Yes, although 100 percent funded by hunting, shooting, and fishing activities not state taxes as many suppose non-hunters and non-shooters are welcome to learn outdoor ethics, safety, and laws.
No, hunter education is not "just for kids." All ages are encouraged to attend. Even though hunters 18 and older may purchase licenses without certificates state-mandated for hunters 12-17, all Montana benefit when users of the outdoors are ethical and safe.
Like in most Montana communities, our hunter educators juggle community needs, family requests, conflicting community activities, and our own schedules. Last year, 90 from Havre signed up to take our firearms hunter education, so this year's plan is to open courses for 100. Since Fish, Wildlife & Parks strongly suggests limiting classes to 25 students, we split offerings into four courses spaced every two months in February, April, June, and August.
Our winter and spring classes have already graduated 50, accommodating those wanting to apply for special April 1 and June 1 hunting permit drawings. Some needed an earlier course as prerequisite for bow-hunter education usually held in mid-summer. Others wanted courses under their belts for different reasons.
However, because winter and spring courses are when families are busy with school, our 14-hour classroom instruction was spread over two weeks on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings, 2 hours at a time. All two-hour field exercises were held Saturday mornings.
On the other hand, summer courses will be free from school concerns, so they're held three hours a day Monday through Saturday. Havre's next courses are June 26-July 1 and August 7-12. Call Michelle at 265-6177 to reserve one of the fifty remaining seats for year 2000.