State park to host hunter education class
Published 12:01 am Sunday, July 31, 2011
NATCHEZ — Before aspiring hunters can go out and try to bag their first buck, duck or turkey they will need to earn their Mississippi Hunter Education certification. Hunters will have the opportunity to do just that at Natchez State Park from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20.
Natchez State Park will host the first of four classes teaching the Mississippi Hunter Education course on Aug. 20 with Jack Cupit serving as instructor for the course.
“Anybody born after 1972 has to have a hunter’s safety class and certification before they can buy a hunting license,” Cupit said.
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Cupit said he has been teaching the course for 10 to 15 years, and it is for anyone age 10 or older. Nine-year-olds who will turn 10 before the end of the year can also earn their certification. Nine-year-olds who will turn 10 next year can still take the course but must take it again next year to be certified.
The main focus on the course is hunter safety, Cupit said.
“(We focus on) safety, safety, safety, safety, safety and ethics,” he said. “I cannot teach them to be hunters or expert marksmen, but I can teach them gun safety, tree stand safety and four wheeler safety.
“If there is something I can give them as far as safety and ethics to keep them from having an accident, or God forbid a fatal accident, that’s what (the class) is for. We try to prevent an accident.”
Cupit said he has seen successful results because of the hunter education courses.
“Since we’ve been teaching, hunting accidents have reduced drastically. (Hunting) is the safest sport we have. Football, baseball, soccer and swimming have accident rates much higher than hunters.”
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks’ website says that hunter education was formally introduced in 1950 and since then the number of accidents nationwide has reduced dramatically.
The course is offered free because of the Pittman-Robertson Act, which puts a sales tax on all hunting equipment, Cupit said. That money goes toward education and conservation, and provides the books and supplies the students will need to take the course, he said.
Cupit volunteers his time to teach the course.
“I do not receive anything except the satisfaction that I have taught this class to the best of my ability,” he said.
Cupit said after safety, ethics is the second most important aspect of the class, and the main goal of ethics is to be respectful to the animals and the people around you.
“There are 10 percent of us that hunt and 10 percent are anti-hunters and 80 percent doesn’t care one way or another,” he said. “That’s the people we have to satisfy. We have to be ethical about it. If you harvest an animal be ethical and don’t offend the general public.”
Cupit said he enjoys teaching all ages and genders, and he really enjoys teaching entire families.
“The entire family needs to know about safety with guns,” he said. “I love to teach moms because they are the ones bringing (the kids) up a lot of the time.”
Cupit said the class usually has about 30 students until the final class when they have higher numbers. The class is for all ages, and he has taught students as young as 9 and as old as 70, he said.
Cupit said the class will be taught in a classroom, and it is a 10-hour course. Students need to know their Social Security number or have it with them. Students will also need to bring their own food and drinks, because they will not be able to leave for lunch, he said.
The class will also be taught Sept. 17 and Oct. 15. Registration is not required.
MDWFP offers the course online, and any student who has completed the online course can go to the state park Nov. 5 to take their field test, Cupit said. The Nov. 5 class is only for students who passed the online course.
For more information visit home.mdwfp.com/Education/Default.aspx, or call Cupit at 601-442-0585.