Now’s the time to reg­is­ter for hunter ed­u­ca­tion course

Record Observer - - Sports -

The facts prove that hunt­ing is one of the safest recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties in Amer­ica. That’s be­cause to­day’s hun­ters are bet­ter ed­u­cated than ever be­fore. They’re go­ing into the field know­ing how to hunt safely and re­spon­si­bly — a knowl­edge of­fered by hunter ed­u­ca­tion cour­ses.

Now’s the time to reg­is­ter for a course. Most cour­ses are of­fered in the late sum­mer and early fall prior to the start of hunt­ing sea­sons, and they do fill up. The DNR’s vol­un­teer in­struc­tors are also ded­i­cated hun­ters and pre­fer to be in the woods than in the class­room dur­ing hunt­ing sea­son. Some cour­ses are also of­fered in the spring prior to spring turkey sea­son. Vol­un­teer in­struc­tors sched­ule each course. Some are com­pleted in a week­end, while oth­ers may take sev­eral week nights and a day dur­ing the week­end to com­plete.

Com­plete in­for­ma­tion is avail­able on the DNR web­site, but here’s an over­view of the ba­sic course and a list of a few up­com­ing classes in our area.

The goals of Mary­land’s Hunter Ed­u­ca­tion Pro­grams in­clude a re­duc­tion of hunt­ing ac­ci­dents and vi­o­la­tions; pro­mo­tion of safe, re­spon­si­ble, and knowl­edge­able hunt­ing ac­tiv­i­ties; and con­tin­u­a­tion of the tra­di­tions of the hunt­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

In 1966 Mary­land started with a vol­un­tary pro­gram of hunter ed­u­ca­tion. In 1977, the Mary­land leg­is­la­ture made it manda­tory for all first-time hun­ters to com­plete a hunter ed­u­ca­tion course. The DNR now has more than 1,100 vol­un­teer in­struc­tors teach­ing over 250 hunter ed­u­ca­tion cour­ses each year. Over 8,000 peo­ple take the Mary­land Hunter Ed­u­ca­tion Course ev­ery year.

The Mary­land Hunter Ed­u­ca­tion Course is a min­i­mum of 10 hours in length. Most classes run 12-14 hours. Stu­dents must at­tend all ses­sions of the class to pass. Most cour­ses re­quire that young­sters un­der the age of 14 at­tend with a par­tic­i­pat­ing adult.

The course in­cludes in­struc­tion in hunter re­spon­si­bil­ity, firearms and am­mu­ni­tion, firearm han­dling and safety, marks­man­ship and shoot­ing fun­da­men­tals, prin­ci­ples of wildlife man­age­ment, bowhunt­ing, muz­zleloader hunt­ing, tree stand safety, safety and first aid, wa­ter safety, and Mary­land le­gal re­quire­ments.

In or­der to pass the course, stu­dents must pass a 50-ques­tion mul­ti­ple choice test with a grade of 80 per­cent, demon­strate to the in­struc­tor that they can safely han­dle a firearm through prac­ti­cal ex­er­cises, and par­tic­i­pate in live fir­ing. Stu­dents must also be rec­om­mended by the in­struc­tor to ob­tain cer­ti­fi­ca­tion by

demon­strat­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity and the ma­tu­rity to be a safe, re­spon­si­ble, and eth­i­cal hunter.

Up­com­ing lo­cal face-to-face hunt­ing ed­u­ca­tion cour­ses will be of­fered at the fol­low­ing places. Regis­tra­tion is avail­able on­line on the DNR’s web page.

Queen Anne’s County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, Centreville, 7-9 p.m., Au­gust 1-3; 9 a.m. to noon, Au­gust 6; 7-9 p.m., Au­gust 8-10. In­struc­tor: Bernard Dadds.

Ch­ester­town Fire Depart­ment, Ch­ester­town, 6-9 p.m., Au­gust 9, 11, 16, 18; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Au­gust 20. In­struc­tor: Rus­sel Par­son.

Caro­line County 4-H Cen­ter, Den­ton, 7-9:30 p.m., Au­gust 15, 19, 22, 26. In­struc­tor: Robert Fletcher.

The Mary­land Hunter Ed­u­ca­tion Pro­gram also of­fers two pro­grams for In­de­pen­dent Study. The In­ter­net Based Course and Home Work­book Course. Once stu­dents suc­cess­fully com­plete the in­de­pen­dent study course, they must com­plete a manda­tory one-day Hunter Ed­u­ca­tion Field Day Work­shop, which in­cludes lec­tures, hunter safety skills demon­stra­tion, range skills demon­stra­tion, live fir­ing, and a fi­nal exam in or­der to com­plete all state re­quire­ments.

The Tal­bot Rod and Gun Club on Chapel Road in Eas­ton will host a Hunter Ed­u­ca­tion In­ter­net Field Day from 9 a.m. to noon on Au­gust 13. All reg­is­trants for the event must be 13 years of age by Au­gust 13, 2016. The in­struc­tor is Ricky Mor­ris. The class will be part of an all-day event spon­sored by the Mary­land Water­fowlers and will in­clude many ac­tiv­i­ties in­tro­duc­ing new hun­ters to wa­ter­fowl hunt­ing.

*** Fish­ing re­port White perch fish­ing con­tin­ues to be good in most of the up­per bay’s ti­dal rivers and creeks. The early morn­ings and evenings have been of­fer­ing good white perch fish­ing for those cast­ing beetle-spins, spin­ners, and small jigs along shore­line struc­ture. White perch can be found deeper dur­ing day­time bright sun and heat. Rigs with drop­per flies or bait will lure fish in deeper wa­ters.

The chum­ming fleets for striped bass con­tinue to an­chor along the chan­nel edges from Sandy Point to above Bal­ti­more Light as well as the Love Point and Swan Point ar­eas. Most boats are chum­ming and drift­ing cut baits back into the chum slicks, but chunk­ing can also be a good op­tion as well as live lin­ing small white perch; an ebbing tide tends to of­fer the best ac­tion.

Stripers also can be found in many other lo­ca­tions along 30-foot or bet­ter chan­nel edges in the up­per bay for those seek­ing a lit­tle el­bow room. When fish are spot­ted on a depth finder, jig­ging can be a sat­is­fy­ing way to catch fish. Trolling is also an op­tion with um­brella rigs be­hind in­line weights or small spoons be­hind plan­ers of­ten a good way to catch a nice grade of striped bass with a few blue­fish thrown in for good mea­sure.

The shal­low wa­ter fish­ery for rock­fish con­tin­ues to be good with a few ad­just­ments as wa­ter tem­per­a­tures climb into the mid-80s. The early morn­ing bite tends to be over as soon as the sun breaks the hori­zon and the evening bite starts a lit­tle later than it did a month ago. Top­wa­ter pop­pers tend to be the most pop­u­lar way to fish near shore­line struc­ture, but swim shads work well when the wa­ter is a lit­tle deeper. East­ern Bay, Kent Nar­rows, Poplar Is­land, and most of the larger ti­dal rivers and creeks all of­fer fish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Far­ther south, co­bia fish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties are bet­ter than has been seen for a long time. Most are be­ing caught by chum­ming and chunk­ing at the area around the Tar­get Ship, the Mud Leads, the Mid­dle Grounds and south near Smith Point and the Cut Chan­nels.

On the At­lantic Coast, king­fish are be­ing caught on blood­worms or Fish­bites, small blue­fish on fin­ger mul­let, and floun­der on squid. A few larger blue­fish are be­ing caught on cut men­haden baits but most of the tak­ers are sting rays, dog­fish, and in­shore sharks.

At the wreck and reef sites there is a mix of sea bass, trig­ger­fish, and floun­der be­ing caught. Far­ther off­shore there is good chunk­ing ac­tion for a mix of bluefin and yel­lowfin tuna at the Hot Dog, Jack Spot, Massey’s Canyon, and the Lumpy Bot­tom. Out at the Wash­ing­ton and Poor­man’s Canyons there is a mix of bluefin, yel­lowfin, dol­phin and white mar­lin. *** Duck blind know-it-all An Anishi­naabe word, “puh­powee” means the power that causes a mush­room to rise up from the earth overnight. Fol­low me on Twit­ter @csknauss Email me at ck­nauss@star­dem.com

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