| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Hunter safety classes could be tweaked

TribLIVE Sports Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Find a class

Interested in taking a first-time hunting class this fall? Now is the time to get them trained as hunting licenses for the 2013-14 seasons are on sale.

To find a class, go to, then click on “education” in the menu bar. From there go to “education class calendar.”

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Monday, June 24, 2013, 7:24 p.m.

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Game Commission recently changed its hunter safety course. It may consider doing it again.

The agency trimmed the class, which once was 12 hours long, back to six about a year ago. That was to get ahead of the curve and address a looming shortcoming, namely a lack of instructors, executive director Carl Roe said at the board's quarterly meeting Monday.

“The challenge is we're not meeting the demand,” Roe said. “Our instructors are an aging volunteer force, to say the least. In five years, 10 years, we won't have enough capacity to meet the demand.”

A shorter class, designed to resemble the length of a typical school day, better serves students, too, said commissioner Ralph Martone of New Castle, a former school teacher and a hunter safety instructor for 23 years.

“I think the old course was good for instructors. But having taught middle school kids, expecting them to sit still for 10 hours was difficult. I think we were fooling ourselves,” Martone said.

Clubs can offer voluntary live fire training as an addendum to their hunter safety class, he said. Many have found creative ways to do that, he said.

But some instructors want more.

State Rep. Greg Lucas, a Crawford County Republican, is also a hunter safety instructor with the Lake Edinboro Sportsmen's Association. He told commissioners Monday that his instructors want to teach a 12-hour course that provides times for live fire exercises and more. If they can't require that, they don't want to teach at all, he said.

“It's a safety issue,” Lucas said. “You wouldn't let your kids go out and drive having only taken a written test. You practice, you train, you get experience. It's the same with hunter education.”

He understands the reasoning behind the move to a shorter class, he said. And if there are instructors willing to offer such a course, and students and parents willing to settle for that, so be it, he added.

“But we want to go above and beyond. And we want your blessing to do that,” Lucas said.

At least a few commissioners seemed open to some sort of compromise.

Commissioner Dave Putnam of Centre County said he supports the concept of offering a basic six-hour course that would give a first-timer the chance to hunt. But perhaps clubs could be given the option to offer a “level 2-” or “level 3-type” safety course that would include live fire, trap setting and other hands-on activities, he said.

“It seems like we could do that,” Putnam said.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Outdoors

  1. Fishing report: Fishing picking up with better weather
  2. Outdoors notices: Audubon Society to host hiking, geocaching workshop
  3. Walleye stocking effort takes a hit in Pennsylvania