© By Othmar Vohringer
For me one of the biggest annual hunting related highlights is the hunter education course. Here in British Columbia anyone over the age of 14 and a resident of this province must be in possession of a valid Hunter Number Card. It is required by law that each person wishing to obtain a Hunter Card Number has previously successfully completed the mandatory Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Education Course (C.O.R.E).
The course is managed province wide by the BC Wildlife Federation (BCWF) and administered through the local Fish & Game Clubs and Rod & Gun Clubs. C.O.R.E. instructors are trained, licensed and registered by the provincial government of BC.
This year we had 14 students, all graduating with flying colours. One thing I noticed this year is that we had more girls and mothers with their kids taking the course, for me this is a very encouraging sign for the future of hunting.
The official class picture of this years students and future hunters.
The C.O.R.E. course started on March 19 in a typical classroom setting and will end with exams on the 22nd. In the classroom the students learn for thee days about the hunting law, firearm safety, hunting ethics, wildlife and habitat conservation, game animal and bird biology, ecology and many other important aspects of hunting and nature stewardship.
Our local Conservation Officers, here Officer Paul Pike next to me, are an active part of the course, teaching about the hunting law and ethics. We also invite other speakers like Jim George (far right) a blackpowder expert, waterfowl experts and many others with a special knowledge.
After three long evenings in the classroom the students and the instructors are eager to head in the field. On March 21 we went to the Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club shooting range to teach the students firearm safety and firearm possession law. Here I am explaining to a few students the shooting range safety rules and how to use hearing protection before they head to the stand to shoot a variety of firearms. The shooting of firearms is not a mandatory part of the course but we do give the students a little experience with different guns and have some fun shooting at targets.
Here I am explaining the workings of a firearm to a girl that never held a gun in her heads. As I found out this particular girl is a natural, she hit with all five shoot smack in the middle of the target. She was so happy that she persuaded her mother, not a student, to try it too. The mother enjoyed shooting the gun as much as her daughter did. In a brief conversation the mother told me that the only part that scared her about the course was the handling of firearms and that trying it for herself has changed her mind about firearms. That made my day.
The students could shoot with a variety of different rifles and calibers and we even had blackpowder guns available to try out.
As every year we tie the course off with a BBQ. Everybody had a good time grilling sausages and burgers. BC has 14 new hunters and that is a reason to celebrate. As the year goes on there will be many more, I hope we can match the 2009 number of 6,599 new hunters province wide, or do even better than that.
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