SIKESTON -- Although hunter safety education courses are only a one-time requirement for hunters, many instructors recommend it as a refresher or even an educational course for non-hunters who still spend time outside.
"I recommend it for everyone," said Sue Rogers, who is the only female instructor in the Sikeston area. "A person needs to have a refresher, because there are things that change."
Taking the two-day course is a big time commitment, but invaluable in the lessons learned, she continued.
Rogers and others will lead the free course scheduled for this Friday and Saturday at the Elk's Lodge. There are typically eight or nine topics covered, all by different people.
"We teach about all safety issues that can be related to hunting and outdoor activities," said Gary "Bo" Ozment. "Even for someone who never goes hunting, there are a lot of lessons to be learned in this class -- even just for someone in a house with firearms."
Thurman Burns, who usually teaches the portion of the course about firearms and ammunition, agreed everyone should consider the course "just to know what it's all about. We teach them that they need to know the weapon and its capabilities, how it operates and its range."
Leother Branch, the Missouri Department of Conservation agent for Scott County, added, "whether you are in the field or at home, the safe handling of firearms is the safe handling of firearms."
Burns said while the course has followed the same format the past five or so years, there are still updates added to the education aspect. But participants still learn from the different chapters and take a test after time provided for a question-and-answer session.
One of the big issues now is the protection of habitats, also referred to as conservation preservation, Rogers said. "If we don't do it, we are not going to have game for people to hunt years from now," she said.
Branch agreed. "It's about leaving the property how you found it or even better than you found it."
Adults typically make up about half the attendance at the course, Ozment said. Some are new hunters -- for instance a man accompanying his children or grandchildren on a youth hunt -- and others are there to retake the course. Quite a few women participate, too, as more and more are hunting now.
It can also be a parent-child activity. "Adults who come with their children comment 'I even learned a little about this,'" Rogers said.
Thurman added there are some people born before 1967 who don't need the course to hunt in Missouri, but need it to receive their heritage card and hunt in other states.
Other topics such as survival, preparation and planning tie into the safety aspect.
Rogers teaches about the ethics of hunting. "It's respecting both the humans and the animals," she said. "We hit that pretty hard."
Deer season begins on Nov. 10, Branch said.
What: Hunter Safety Education Course
When: 6 to 9:30 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, with an hour break for lunch at noon
Where: Sikeston Elk's Lodge, 349 Dona St. No pre-registration is required.
Minimum age: 11
Another course will be offered from 6 to 9 p.m . Oct. 23 and 25 and 6 to 10 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Otter Slough Conservation Area in Stoddard County. Pre-
registration is required by calling (573) 290-5730.