It will be 53 years ago this coming September since I took the Montana Hunter’s Safety Course. Since then I covered many a mile up and down Montana’s wildlands, crossed lots of streams and fences, and I’ve been fortunate to have taken many game birds and big game. I occasionally think back to those halcyon days when I took another step towards adulthood. I went from a tag-along kid to a legitimate gun toting hunter and I will always be grateful to my Dad, my Uncles, and my Hunter Safety instructors. The caring and guidance they gave me is a gift that I enjoy each time I enter the field.
While I have been instructing firearms courses for many years, it was just recently that I was certified as a Montana Hunter Safety Instructor. I am pleased and proud to be able to help youngsters and adults enter into the wonderful world that is hunting in Montana. Like me, I hope they all experience a lifetime of outdoor joy. But there is another more serious reason for my becoming a Hunter Safety Instructor.
A little over 33 years ago, I and my family lost one of our own to a hunting accident. A young man, husband, father, son, brother, and cousin lost his life to a gunshot wound. He died alone on a cold November day. In a split second the lives of his three young boys, as well as the rest of his family, were irreversibly changed forever. The consequences of a firearms tragedy are eternal; not a single day goes by that I don’t think of him and the horrid change that happened to all of us that day.
Firearms are tools. Guns can help us defend ourselves, provide food for our families, and give us opportunities to play games such as trap and skeet. There is nothing truly inordinately dangerous about a gun, they are inanimate objects like cars, planes, and power tools. They have no emotions, no desires, no ambitions; it is people and the way they use firearms that is the source of injuries and deaths by gunshot wounds.
For decades, Montana’s Hunter Safety Instructors have helped our citizens be safe and ethical in the field. Tens of thousands of Hunter Safety trained Montanans have ventured into the wildlands in search of game. We will never know how many accidents didn’t happen, how many hunters didn’t get lost, and how many animals were not poached or lost because of the work of individuals dedicated to getting Montana’s hunters home safely.
Youth and adult Hunter Safety classes are now available across the state. There is no charge for the class and I urge everyone to get involved in the program. Whether you are a student or you might want to learn to be an instructor, there is a place in Hunter’s Safety for you. For more information go to: http://fwp.mt.gov/education/hunter/. There you will find a wealth of knowledge about the program. Please take advantage of it and enjoy Montana’s hunting opportunities.
Next weekend (February 24-26) The Great Rockies Sports Show comes to Helena. The Broadwater Rod & Gun Club will have a booth there. If you are in the Helena area, please stop and see what we have to offer.
Be safe and good shooting.