Safety is topic at classes

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 8, 2001

The goal of every hunter is to enjoy himself while tracking a big buck or waiting on a covey of dove. But to get to that point, everyone must go through a safety course. And that’s what 17 people did on Saturday at the Adams County Extension Building.

Instructor John Kerwin and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks taught the course, which is designed to reduce hunting accidents, instruct hunters on how to properly load and fire a rifle and to educate people about the environment.

The state has held the safety class since 1972. And, according to Kerwin, he’s seen the advantages, as deaths and accidents have decreased over the years because of the course.

&uot;They’ve gone done as a result of it,&uot; said Kerwin.

Statistics for Mississippi were not available on Saturday, but in Colorado, where hunter education classes were first introduced in 1969, hunting fatalities have fallen from an average of nine per year in the period 1961-1969 to an average of 1.3 per year from 1990-99.

If a resident takes the course, he is recognized throughout the United States and Canada as a licensed hunter.

Kerwin said most hunting accidents take place between the ages of 12 and 16 and 30 and 38. The reason for the first group is because most kids are just learning to hunt. The reason for the latter group is because most people think they know everything about safety.

&uot;It takes about 16 years to forget safety practices and you start cutting corners,&uot; Kerwin said of the 30-38-year-old group.

He also said an encouraging thing to see is fathers bringing their sons to the classes. It means the father is re-learning correct hunting procedures.

&uot;When a father brings in a son, he sits there through it, and it reminds him of the safety practices,&uot; Kerwin said.

He also said the course is beneficial because, &uot;What the son forgets, the father remembers, and what the father forgets, the son remembers.&uot;

Kerwin said most family members should take the course, even if there’s only one hunter in the family. &uot;It makes it a little safer for everyone concerned.&uot;

Kerwin is a certified instructor for Mississippi and Louisiana. In two weeks, he will teach a class for bowhunting, and two weeks after that, he’ll teach a session on muzzleloaders.