Hunting season on Long Island officially kicked off Monday, as deer bowhunting opened for the next three months, with several small game seasons opening up in coming weeks.
While I won't be out bowhunting, I did recently sit in on a Sportsman's Education Class, which is offered by the Department of Environmental Conservation and is required to obtain a hunting license in New York State.
I didn't grow up surrounded by any hunters, so a decent portion of the class was informative and interesting.
So what might one learn at a DEC Sportsman's Education Course? Here are a few things I found:
- Bowhunting and firearm hunting require two separate courses in order to get a license for each. Either that or one dual course that the DEC started offering this year. So no bowhunting for me this year, though I could have figured that out before stepping in the classroom if I had bothered to check.
- The Pittman-Robinson Act, an excise tax on firearms, bullets, bows and hunting-related equipment, provides a vital source of revenue for purchasing and maintaining wildlife management areas.
- High school-style instructional videos are alive and well at Sportsman's Education Classes. You might step back in time during the (tragic) "The Last Shot," as well as a video on how to properly field dress a deer, hosted by a man who probably has the best hunter name in the Idaho Fish and Game Department: Clint Rand.
- If you don't know much about firearms (like me), learning the nuts and bolts of what makes a gun fire is interesting and necessary stuff to know. This was my biggest take-away from the course.
- Meat begins to spoil at 40 degrees, and heat is typically the number one reason for spoilage.
- A rifle bullet (7MM) can travel three miles.
- When a student comes to a course with his father, and his father tells the instructor, "I've killed more people than you have deer," that's a good time for someone to call the police. (The issue ended up being resolved peacefully.)
There were other things the course taught me though I won't go into detail, and of course the biggest concept you will learn, though you should probably know this already: firearms have the ability to take the life of humans and animals in an instant, and constant care and respect must be given when handling a weapon.
As do bows, I'm sure — though I guess I'll have to wait to learn more about them.