New hunters must complete a Hunter Safety Education Course in order to obtain their first licence.
Steve and Lisa Johnson are the trained, certified, volunteer instructors who lead the Hunter Safety course for Orleans County. They became certified through the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. Steve has been teaching this course since 1987 and Lisa began shortly thereafter. They rely on the help of fellow certified instructors, Dennis Perry and Gordon Chadburn. In addition to teaching the Hunter Safety course, the Johnsons participate in the Hunter Education Mentoring Program to train new instructors. Their daughter Samantha and son Justin are in the process of becoming certified instructors.
There is no age requirement for Hunter Safety, but Vermont Fish and Wildlife states that materials are written at a 6th grade reading level. Steve and Lisa have had children and adults of all ages take this course, with the youngest possibly being 7 years old, with the help of parents. Many adults like to take the course as a refresher. This year they had 3 moms who took the course with their sons. In fact, there has been an increase in women enrolling – some hunters, some not. Many just want to learn the safe handling of firearms.
Hunter Safety is taught according to national guidelines and state standards. Covered are topics including safe firearm handling, the ethics of hunting, outdoor safety, conservation, and wildlife identification. There is an average of 12-16 hours of classroom and field education. Classes are held at the Glover Town Hall and the field exercises take place at the Orleans County Rod and Gun Club on Hollow Road in Barton.
Upon completion of the course, students receive a Hunter Safety patch and an orange card which states that they have passed the tests and met all requirements. However, Steve stresses, ”Getting the orange card, does not mean that the student will automatically go get a hunting licence.” For a young person, it’s the parent’s responsibility to decide whether or not their child is ready to hunt.
There is no fee for the Hunter Safety course because it is funded by the Federal Aid in Sport, Fish, and Wildlife Program, however, a donation to Glover Recreation is appreciated.
Some important advice from Steve, “Treat every gun as if it were loaded.”
And from Lisa, “If we can help one child be safe, it’s worth it.”