Hunter Ed Camp benefits Arizona Youth
By Tom Britt, Flagstaff Chapter
Since the late 1950s, the Coconino Sportsmen Club and the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) have teamed up to offer hunter education classes in Flagstaff. The course is required for all big game hunters under the age of 14. Many adults also take the course, which earns them a permanent bonus point for the Arizona big game lottery.
The course was taught in a classroom format like most hunter education classes until nine years ago, when two hunter education instructors changed it to a family campout format. Initially, the attendees and the Coconino Sportsmen Club covered the cost of the camp, but this soon became a challenge. Hoping to help, I applied for State Grant funding beginning in 2011, and have successfully secured grants the past three years.
The course is now conducted at the Northern Arizona Shooting Range east of Flagstaff. It begins on Friday at noon and continues through Sunday at 11 a.m. Participants are encouraged to camp at the range, and the majority does, along with their families. Parents often take the course with their children.
Students receive instruction in map and compass, survival, first aid, blood trailing, an introduction to muzzleloaders and archery, field dressing a big game animal (we use a goat), proper methods to cape and skin an animal for the taxidermist, wildlife identification, rules and regulations pertaining to wildlife in Arizona, safe use of firearms, types of firearms and ammunition, camp sanitation and food preparation. All students practice their shooting skills with .22 rimfire rifles on the 50 yard range, including instruction about range procedures and commands.
RMEF State Grant funds help purchase ammo, targets and miscellaneous range and camp supplies, water and food. In addition, my fellow RMEF volunteers grill up a dinner on Saturday evening for all students and their families, and provide a continental breakfast on Sunday morning.
The course has proven to be very popular and is typically booked way in advance. After more than 40 years as a hunter education instructor, I see the benefits of offering the class in an outdoor setting where youth and adults get real hands-on experience. Having the opportunity to mold these individuals—with help from RMEF volunteers and a State Grant—into Arizona’s future crop of hunter-conservationists is quite a privilege.