By Jeremy Wise, Army Flier StaffMarch 11, 2010
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Thirty-two area hunters learned to practice their sport safely here March 8 when they took a hunter safety education class in a Murphy Hall classroom.
In order to hunt on post, community members must complete a hunter education course, said Billy Tucker, a Fort Rucker game law enforcement officer.
Officials recognize any courses taken in the United States and some foreign countries, said Jerry Riley, who has instructed hunter safety courses here for about 13 years.
Tucker addressed laws specific to Fort Rucker before an Alabama game warden officer discussed some state laws. With turkey season starting Monday, Tucker informed students that training areas 29, 34, 35, 40 and H are currently closed to hunting due to an ongoing deer population survey. These areas are located near Hanchey Army Heliport.
Riley added some rules on post differ from state hunting laws. This includes the amount of hunter orange gear required to hunt. State laws require only 144 square inches - the size of a cap - while regulations here require hunters to wear a cap and vest.
Another rule that differs concerns tree stands. In order to use one on the installation, hunters must wear a safety harness, Riley said.
Riley said the most important issue he addresses is tree stand safety "because that is where we tend to maim and kill people."
In the 2007-2008 hunting seasons, 12 hunting accidents involved tree stands, while only six involved firearms, according to state hunting statistics.
Hunters who use tree stands should always use a rope to pull weapons to the top. While climbing the stand, sportsmen should keep three appendages on the ladder at all times, Riley said.
After the classroom session, students visited different work stations where they were quizzed on subjects such as how to properly clean, case and carry a weapon. Participants also had to identify weapons by type and caliber, and one station addressed muzzleloader usage.
Students said the class taught them many things.
"Every aspect of hunting, it covered that aspect," said Clark Herring, a Soldier with A Company, 1st Battalion, 223rd Aviation Regiment. "It wasn't focused on one area."
Despite being an "old hunter" and being stationed in Alabama twice before, Herring said the section on Alabama laws informed him the most.
Kelly Stokes said the muzzleloader station taught her something new.
"I have never seen them before. That was pretty cool," she said.
Prior to attending Tuesday's "field-day" class, participants completed an online portion found at the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resource Web site, www.outdooralabama.com, Riley said.
The next hunter safety education course does not begin until August, Riley said, but a list of classes for next hunting season will be available online at www.outdooralabama.com.