Reasons for Hunter Education and Justification for Hunting

  1. Justification for hunter education
    1. Why hunter education is important
  2. Hunter’s role in wildlife conservation
    1. Role of hunting in conservation
    2. North American Model of Wildlife Conservation
    3. Conservation funding - wildlife management & hunter education
  3. Key wildlife ecology & management principles
    1. Basic factors of wildlife conservation
    2. Biological basis for hunting

Hunter education is designed to train hunters to become:

  • Safe (by following all firearm and hunting safety rules)
  • Responsible (about hunting, wildlife, conservation and hunting laws)
  • Knowledgeable (by knowing and demonstrating acceptable behavior and attitudes while hunting)
  • Involved (in joining and participating in hunting and conservation organizations)

Hunter education is important because it:

  • Helps prevent hunting and shooting accidents (safety first).
  • Improves hunter behavior and compliance with hunting laws (thereby improving public acceptance of hunting and furthering the hunting tradition

Hunter Education programs are often community efforts supported by many people and organizations. Some of the main sources of funding and support are:

  • State/provincial wildlife agencies
  • Non-government organizations (NGO)
  • U.S. Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program (This program, which is administered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in the United States, provides major funding from excise taxes placed on firearms, ammunition and archery equipment. These funds are used by state wildlife agencies for wildlife restoration, hunter education and shooting range development.)
  • International Hunter Education Association (IHEA)
  • Sportsmen’s Clubs and other local organizations and businesses

Teaching Tools

  • Start class with a #2 pencil with an eraser and a lead tipped rifle bullet. Start discussion with question of, "How are they different?" After many guesses, write your name and contact information, but then show how to erase errors with the pencil BUT indicate how difficult it is to erase errors made with bullets.
  • At the beginning of each class, hand out pre-printed sheets with LARGE quotations on them. The quotes are something like:
    • "Unload the firearm"
    • "Treat every gun as if it's loaded"
    • "When hunting, if you see something moving, assume it's a person"

Give these to each student and tell them to hang on to it for the duration of the class.

  • Ask the class what is the most important thing you take to the field? Answer: “Your brain.”

Historical Moments

North American Model of Wildlife Conservation

  • Use a prepared PowerPoint slideshow but don't just read from the slides. Use your imagination and knowledge to present what's on the screen in your words. Be sure to give interesting, real life examples (i.e., tell story about President Roosevelt and his history with bear hunting.)  
  • Students love show and tell - try to bring items to show such as a bow, handmade arrow, or an old antique gun. Involving students with hands-on items and demonstrations is a great way to maintain their attention.
  • It is recommended that every student in the US get a free game processing DVD upon the successful completion of a Hunter Education Class. The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Cooperative extension makes a wonderful DVD of the entire process of harvesting a reindeer. 90% of Americans are Non- Hunters and are under the assumption that hunters kill just for the horns or antlers. Don't forget to promote the proper use of the game meat and how healthy it is.

A Hunter’s Role in Wildlife Conservation

Key Wildlife Ecology and Management Practices

  • Habitat-Key Components
  • Carrying Capacity:
    • When explaining the logistics of Carrying Capacity, the use of a "big gulp" mug and pour water into a much smaller cup, all the while talking and not looking at the cup. When water begins to spill over, talk about deaths on the highways, disease, etc. The students seem to remember the concept and the idea makes sense, especially to the younger students who had a hard time with Carrying Capacity.
    • For conservation, use a clear bowl and four types of mini candy bars. The bowl represents space. Add the other 3 elements, using candy bars for each one. The last candy car represents the wildlife. As you add, let some fall to the table to represent surplus. During the display, review the main parts of conversation with the class. At the end, the other instructors come in and 'steal' some candy to represent poachers. 
    • Utilize a 5' x 8' camo tarp to demonstrate habitat and carry capacity in a visual format. While it is easy to list the parts of habitat, linking each part to a color on the tarp allows students to understand "arrangement." On a camo tarp, food, H20, and cover are evenly distributed. They can all be easily attained. Explain that this rarely happens and that animals have to move to find these. Have students stand on the tarp representing a male and female of a species, how many are there going to be next year? The year after? Add students until the space becomes an issue.
    • Use a two part container (measuring cup with a large paper cone insert) to represent carrying capacity plus surplus population. Explain the concepts including regulated hunting. Fill both parts with candy and circulate it with a “bag limit” of 1, 2, or 3 candies (based on the size of the class). Remove the surplus population cone to demonstrate that the remaining population still exceeds the carrying capacity. Explain unregulated hunting as a tool to eliminate excess population and allow "unregulated candy hunting” at the break to demonstrate its effectiveness.
    • Biological Surplus - too many animals
    • Limiting Factors - disease, predation, weather, lack of key components

Additional Resources:

HE Tools

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies