The message is clear—if you want to hunt, then you first must successfully pass a hunters’ safety course.
And while the hunting season is now underway for grouse, and bow hunting for moose and bear, many potential hunters are enrolled in the two-week course at Sixth Street School under the direction of lecturer Rick Socholotuk, an avid angler and hunter.
The course runs three nights a week at a cost of $60 per person, which includes books, tests and “any other expenses,” said Socholotuk, in his third year of teaching it.
At the end of the course, students must achieve at least a 90 percent score on the final exam, which includes both a written portion and a practical one.
“But you have to first pass the written test before you move on to the practical one,” Socholotuk warned.
The next course, which is already full, will be offered Oct. 6-8 and 14-16, with the test tentatively slated for Oct. 17. One more might be held after that if there’s enough interest.
The course itself encompasses the very basics with hunting, said Socholotuk, adding the course stresses safety issues.
“The course deals with basic firearms safety and hunter education," he noted. ”We talk about equipment and we have a [conservation officer] come in and talk about potential problems that can happen.
“The program takes those who register from nothing [in regards to hunting knowledge] to being able to get their hunting licences," he added. "We want people to leave here with a good, positive attitude about hunting and safety.”
Socholotuk said it’s important that he teaches his students through a “hands-on approach” in the classroom. And any questions that arise are answered immediately, he added.
Still, the reason many people sign up for the course is because it is a prerequisite to acquire their hunting licence.
“I took the course because I wanted to hunt and I learned I had to take the course if I wanted to hunt,” admitted Jason Kabel, one of about 27 students taking the course right now.
“It’s a pretty comprehensive and thorough [course]. We learned how to load a gun and what to shoot," he noted. "I was completely novice and ignorant to a lot of the stuff that he teaches.”
Kabel said the most important aspect of hunting that he’s learned is safety, which he said is stressed vehemently by Socholotuk.
“It’s a potentially dangerous sport so safety is a big issue,” he noted.