Teaching the next generation how to be safe and responsible hunters


Safe firearm handling is one important skill instructors teach hunter education students. Courtesy: Michigan Department of Natural Resources

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Volunteers encourage the next generation of Michigan hunters to be safe and responsible.

In recent years Michigan hunting has seen a decline, but hunter education programs are in demand.

In 2018, 18,800 students received a hunter safety certificate, which allows them the opportunity to hunt for a lifetime.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division helps coordinate the state’s 2,800 volunteer hunter safety instructors.

“Conservation officers are involved with the program, but there aren’t enough officers available to teach recreational safety classes in every community throughout the state in addition to their other responsibilities,” said Conservation Officer Lt. Tom Wanless.

Rick Singleton is a U.S. Coast Guard veteran and volunteers as a hunter education instructor.

“I always wanted to be a teacher,” Singleton said. “I have a ton of knowledge in recreational safety. We have such an amazing environment around us, I want to make sure that people can be safe and enjoy it.”

The program includes proper firearm handling, basic first aid, and outdoor survival skills from lifelong hunters.

“At some point, the students are going to look back and remember the hunter education instructor who taught them those skills,” Wanless said.

Most importantly, volunteer instructors teach about ethics, which Wanless said is the basis for the hunter education program.

“You have to do the right thing, right,” said Larry Stafford who has been a volunteer hunter safety instructor for 13 years “Even when you think nobody is watching.”

Volunteer instructors teach students about taking clear and accurate shots and being respectful with game.

Singleton encourages people who are interested in hunting, but have limited outdoor experience, to start by simply going outside.

Volunteer instructors bring lifelong hunting and outdoors experience to their classes, which is crucial, especially since many parents are trusting these volunteers to teach their children how to safely handle a firearm.

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