Pennsylvania Hunter Education 2016: 34 Years Later

Pennsylvania Hunter Education 2016. I couldn’t have been happier or more proud to take my son to Pennsylvania hunter education class. Hunter ed classes fill up fast and I watched the Pennsylvania Game Commission registration webpage like a hawk to ensure my boy would have a seat at the table- the exact same table I sat at 34 years ago.   This time around it was Adult Education.

Pennsylvania Hunter Education: Nothing Has Changed

There are exactly two things that have changed inside the fish & game club room where I took hunter education 34 years ago. First, there are now “No Smoking” signs on the wall. Signs at hunter educationSecond, there are no ashtrays on the tables.  Other than that, the room is exactly as it was in 1982 and for that matter probably 1962.  “No One” has been allowed in the kitchen of this establishment in quite some time.Signs At Hunter Education

Teaching Hunter Education Class

Thank goodness for the volunteers that taught the class.  It was group instruction with no One On One. The lead instructor carried the class and had his presentation down pat.  His assistant seemed to be a kind man and he and delivered his material equally well.  A Wildlife Conservation Officer was present and lectured the class on laws, regulations, hunter image, and a few other topics that I lost in a web of tangents.  His presentation skills were lacking.  He seemed Out Of Touch and was probably close to retirement.

Teaching An Old Dog

Hunter Education Class RoomThis old brittany has maintained a staunch point for the past 50 years or so- maybe more. It’s hard to say how many hunter ed classes he’s sat/pointed through. Flanked by an English pointer and an English setter, he’s heard it all and back in the day he was forced to endure cigarette smoke so thick the Marlboro Man would choke. Old School Pointing Dogs At Hunter Education ClassThis old dog has observed countless lectures. I wondered how much longer he would remain on the wall.  I imaged how someday he’d be considered worthless and unpinned from the wall and discarded. I briefly considered ways that I might save him from such a fate.

Hunter Education- Everything Has Changed

During a break while nobody was looking, I asked the old pointer his thoughts on the new school compared to the old school.   Here’s what’s new in Pennsylvania hunter education:

  • Instructors teach to the test
  • Numerous girls and women attend the class
  • Minimal coverage of trapping, heavy firearms safety and little coverage of hunting regulations
  • Lots of instructional videos, some cheesy, and some sobering
  • Surprisingly heavy coverage of muzzle loading equipment  (Test Tip: The “L” shaped piece on the lock is called the F-R-I-Z-Z-E-N).
  • There are plenty of breaks
  •  The instructor reads the test questions aloud so that each student can complete the test at the same pace

There was a lot of focus on firearms safety and minimal coverage of actual hunting regulations.  In fact, I’d say that one third of the class centered around firearms and safe handling techniques.  It goes to figure.  The PGC wants to keep itself and its hunters safe in the field.  It doesn’t make front page news when a hunter exceeds his bag limit or is caught hunting past curfew but shoot a turkey hunter in the face with a load of #4 shot…   And they barely covered trapping.  It seemed like they Did It In A Minute.  The instructors glazed over the regulations on tending traps but made sure the class was clear that only BEAVERS could be snared.

Lunch Time At Hunter Education ClassHot dogs at hunter education

The instructors explained that the hunter education class was funded by an excise tax.  The class and materials right down to the free hotdogs and chips were brought to you by Pittman-Robertson.  A lady behind the counter announced that the class was welcome to come up for seconds, thirds, and even forth servings if we so desired.  She admitted they’d end up in the trash if uneaten.

Pennsylvania Hunter Education Class
Test Time

Hunter Education Test Time

After close to 7 hours of lecture and instruction it was time to take the test. It was clearly not the first rodeo for the lead instructor and he ran his test session in a military-like fashion.  Adults not taking the test were ushered to the back of the room.  He bluntly informed his students to maintain Private Eyes.  If they were to be caught cheating, they just wasted their entire day. He read the test questions aloud clearly so that each student could  give each answer careful consideration before moving on the next question.

Pencils Down.  Hunting School’s Out

Upon the completion, the students graded each other’s tests.  Our class had a 100% pass rate.  A young girl hurried outside after the test and smiled triumphantly while she announced to her mother that she passed via smartphone. Not far away three elven year old boys huddled together and confided in each other. It turns out that each boy missed two questions each.  I told my son that I was proud of him and that he Made My Dreams (come true).

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