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Old October 7, 2000, 06:20 AM   #1
Sport
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I am posting this here because I
know you can relate.
We just finished the week of classroom
instruction for twenty-three hunter
education students. Every year, we have
several nine year olds. In my state a
youngster can take the class if he will
turn ten before the end of the year.

These youngsters tend to be the most eager
of all the students. We have a team of five
instructors plus a state wildlife officer.
Each instructor is well versed in his
specific area of responsibility. With our
classroom teaching, the textbook,and the
videos, these students receive all te information they need to successfully complete the course.

On Friday night the hundred question written
exam is administered. The problem is..these
youngsters can't read! In years past, we
would note those who appeared to be struggling and offer to read the questions
to them. We are not obligated to do so.
This year we decided not to offer that service. Our thinking was that one's ability
to read has a bearing on one's maturity level. If one takes a drivers' license test,
one is required to read; hunting is no less
serious.

This year, three of the nine year olds failed
the written exam. Our obligation as instructors is to certify those who have passed the class and who we truly believe will be safe, responsible hunters.We have
dismissed older students in the past who
have displayed "attitude" problems or who
have demonstrated immaturity.

My general feeling is that while age can be a
factor, maturity is the real key. It's that
latter element we're looking for.

I would appreciate your thoughts.

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Old October 7, 2000, 07:33 AM   #2
45King
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Maturity is certainly the key, and there is no set chronological age at which this becomes a factor. I know people in their 40's with the maturity levels of a 3-year-old, and I know some teens with the maturity levels of a wise middle-ager.
I guess it just has to be a matter of individual judgement.

The reading problem is not necessarily indicative of maturity, however. It may be more indicative of bad teachers who don't take the time to reach out to every student. When I was 9, I could read at a level above my age, but then, I always loved to read. I got my first gun at 6.5, and was hunting (with Dad) by age 8.

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Old October 7, 2000, 07:58 AM   #3
rr41mag
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I'm going through something similar to this right now with my son. I'm not forcing hunting upon him however whenever I get the chance I try to teach him something new. I would think that the maturity would be the most important part. Not helping those kids to read the test I feel was wrong though.Think about it, you have kids that are willing to give up time in front of the TV watching power rangers that want to learn about outdoors but their only drawback is that they cannot read a few of the big words on a test. Are those kids going to come back next time? maybe, maybe not, I instruct the safety briefing for our local gun club here and one of our unwritten rules are kids are encouraged to participate. I don't think it was good for those kids to have "failed" because they couldn't read the test. Go back to what you used to do and help those kids!







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Old October 7, 2000, 09:47 AM   #4
Sport
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Although we didn't read the test, we did
answer any and all questions and helped
them with words. I'm talking children who
could not identify words like "ammunition",
"livestock", "federal government". I actually
had to spell one youngster's last name for him.

We just finished the shooting test this
morning. Several of the smaller children
could not comfortably handle the youth model
twenty gauge shotguns we provide. In my
opinion, some of these youngsters are simply
too immature and too little to be entrusted
with the responsibility we are passing on
to them.

It's true children mature at different rates,
but society sets minimum standards for all
types of pursuits. My experience is that
nine may be too young to be "licensed" as
a hunter safety graduate given the serious
responsibility involved.

One more point. I get aggravated at our
willingness to "dumb down" life's challenges
to accommodate the least prepared. Why lower
the bar? How low are we willing to go.
How about five,six,seven year olds? How
about non-written picture tests? When do
we say enough?

[This message has been edited by Sport (edited October 07, 2000).]
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Old October 7, 2000, 12:31 PM   #5
Ron Ankeny
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I am a public scool teacher and I also conduct live fire classes for hunter safety. In Wyoming, 12 year old kids can hunt trophy and big game. That's right a 12 year old kid can hunt Mountain Goats, Bighorn Sheep, Moose, Elk, Deer, Bear, and Pronghorn. Of course, that is in part why a license is so hard to draw, all of those thousands of kids are applying for trophy game right along side of adults. The idea was to drop the age requirement in order to get more kids into the sport.

For what it is worth, the vast majority of 12 year old kids can't make a clean, humane shot on big game animals. Heck, most of them can't shoot our hunter safety .243 off of a bench. I am amused at the people who preach that you need a 30-06 (or bigger) to kill a moose then hand a 12 year old a .243 loaded down with 75 grain bullets to pop old Bullwinkle. Still, year in and year out when dad and the kids roll through the check station the kid usually manged to fill the tag first.

As far as I am concerned, if 12 year olds want to "hunt" big game, then fine. But trophy game animals like Bighorn sheep at 11,000 feet? Give me a break.

As for your 9 year olds taking a test. Maybe your state needs to develop a test for kids that is properly constructed at the proper reading level. Don't "dumb down" on the test, but at least assess what kids know and can do in a fashion they can understand. If your state wants to allow 9 year old kids to take the test, write it at the appropriate reading level.
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Old October 7, 2000, 02:01 PM   #6
Sport
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Ron,


It's an interesting point about the
reading level of the test. I have no idea
whether the test writers are even aware
that reading levels vary. I DO know there
are some "trick" questions on the test.
This year, we had no perfect scores. I've
taken seven hunter safety courses just to
keep my perspective of what the students go through. I am "hard core"
so I usually max them. I can understand how
a typical student of any age can miss five
or so questions. Maybe the test needs to be
reviewed by education experts.

That said, when a youngster can"t spell his
own name...when a youngster cannot competantly hold a youth model 20 gauge, I
get real concerned.

Ultimately, these youngsters may well be in the woods when we are. Will they get buck fever? Will they shoot at a sound? Will they
be responsible enough to calm their emotions and pull the trigger ONLY when appropriate?

I have my doubts.
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Old October 7, 2000, 03:37 PM   #7
BadMedicine
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I must be the only one in this whole chat who is going to oppose what you did as "wrong." This is not a reading, or spelling, or comprehension test. This is a hunters saftey test, and whether or not they have good reading skills has nothing to do with hunting safely. True, you do need to read the regulations to find out when and where you can legally hunt, but tell me how many of these nine year olds are going to hope in the truck, and drive down to unit 38B to do a little hunting when their parents aren't around??? By failing these kids, you are failing the sport, not only as an instructor, but as a hunter. Now when the dads of these kids get up on saturday, to go hunting, they won't take their kids, and the kids will stay home and play video games, or some other "brain-rotting game" when they could be out with their dad bonding, and learning about nature, and wildlife, and our role as a hunter. Was it really worth the hour you saved by not reading them these tests to have cheated them on that?? Maybe next year when they can read better they'll be to afraid to fail again, maybe they've decided that they no longer want to hunt, or spend time with their dad. I'm very disappointed. These young kids just want to hunt with their dads, and the govt said they can't until they're ten?????? and even then ythey give them some test aimed towards 16 y/o's, with big words that are confusing, and instructors who wont walk them through the tests??? You couldn't have maybe given them other sorts of tests like a walk in the woods with a gun, or other stuff that tests their saftey. Like a when to shoot, when not to shoot? I don't care if these kids our out in the woods when I am, I've been out there hunting with a loaded gun since as long as I can remember. I didn't pass a hunters saftey course until I was 12, cuz you had to be that old to hunt in Idaho, but Uncle sam be damned!! I was going to hunt with my dad!!
I would much rather be out in the woods with kid, who is there learning the propper handling and saftey from his dad, then some 21 year old, whose never hunted before, and don't have to take the hunter saftey course. It makes me really sad that you have restricted these kids the right to hunt just because they can't read big words. Bad.

[This message has been edited by BadMedicine (edited October 07, 2000).]
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Old October 7, 2000, 07:56 PM   #8
rr41mag
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Sport I now understand the mature part of what you said. There is an acedemic side that the students are lacking in which is no fault of their own. When you have younger students in your class and they fail to measure up(so to speak) I know that you encourage them to keep trying. Today at the ballfield one 6 year old who is very small for his age showed that he had alot of heart. He kept trying and so did I. I admire you for taking your time out to introduce these young individuals to the outdoors and do it in an ethical manner.




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Old October 7, 2000, 07:58 PM   #9
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It seems to me, that there is more than one question here. There is the question of maturity -- Is the student mature enough to be entrusted with lethal force and to understand and abide by the ethics of applying that force in hunting? There is the question of reading skill -- Is it an appropriate and adequate gauge of maturity? And, another question (at least in my mind)involves the instructor's duty in certifying hunters -- Is the instructor responsible for soley presenting the information, then testing the students on their understanding of that information, or, does the instructor's duty extend beyond that to include an assessment of the students fitness in all areas for certification?

If the instructors are expected to assess the student's maturity level and certify or not based primarily on their subjective judgements, then I feel for you! That is quite a burden to put on an instructor, especially given that you are not provided specific tools for such assessments.

As for passing written exams... I know at least one very mature, very responsible, very ethical, very honest, 55 year old man who can read or write very little in any language. Yet, he safely and legally takes two or three deer a year! A written exam would not be a good predictor of his abilities in the field!

IMHO, you might do well to suggest to the appropriate decision makers in your state that they implement a rule similar to what we have in our state. It basically says that hunters younger than 17 years must be certified to get a license, but even with a license, they can only hunt if accompanied by a licensed hunter 17 years of age or older. This takes the burden of judging maturity off of instructors and places it on the responsible adult who takes the youngster hunting -- where, IMHO, it belongs.
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Old October 9, 2000, 03:00 PM   #10
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Sport:

I have three sons ages 7, 5, and 3. My 5 year old is more reliable. age is only one factor. You should suggest giving oral exams to younger test takers.

But I think we should like the types of games a small fella can take. There seems to be a time-honored tradition of working your son up to the big game from the small stuff.

When my two older boys exhibit the maturity I require, then I'' get them into hunter education so they can properly hunt with me. But too many boys are too impulsive and jumpy to safely hunt with until about age 10.
I know I'll glad wait so not as to have my boy scare off a huge buck or jump into the line of fire.

It all comes down to that individual child. My an 8 year old girl would be great - they tend to read eariler and can wait well. Just have to get her over the field dressing. Will never foregt my twin sister's distaint for baiting the hook when we went fishing as kids. he he he.

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Old October 9, 2000, 05:36 PM   #11
Field-dressed
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The nationally recognized hunter education course is geared toward 12 year olds. I believe this age was selected based on the average youngster's ability to safely handle a firearm, understand the difference between public and private land, and be able to read the rules and regs. It takes a lot of responsibility to hunt in most areas these days, much more than when many of us were growing up. We get younger kids who pass the test, but not that many. But that doesn't mean they can't go hunting. They can still hump along after dad toting a .22, and begin learning the skills before they take hunter ed. There is a trade-off here. Its been shown statistically that certified hunters have fewer accidents and get into less trouble afield, but on the other hand I hate to see another hurdle put in front of a kid who wants to go out hunting. Hunter ed. isn't going to go away, mainly because of its success in helping make the sport so safe. It's up to us adults to take any interested kid out to see what hunting is about.
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Old October 9, 2000, 07:53 PM   #12
jbgood
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Thank you, Field-dressed, for saying so well what I fumbled through in an earlier reply. I do believe that hunter education has proven itself and is here to stay. However, it is not, and should not be, the only source of hunter education young folks receive. Rather, it should be seen as an additional tool that helps us teach youngsters how to behave in the woods. It is not a substitute, it is a supplement. It is up to us as older -- and hopefully, more mature hunters -- to guide our youth toward successful, ethical, and safe hunting experiences.
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Old October 10, 2000, 06:02 PM   #13
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In Colorado there is no minimum age to hunt deer, small game, etc. In our most recent hunter education class, our state wildlife officer said that this age subject came up again recently, BUT they decided to stay with no minimum. Kids that can't read yet are given an oral test (we had two kids under twelve who took AND PASSED that test).

So thus it is the ability to know the subject, demonstrate safe firearm handling and shooting, and communicating by voice and ear. Note that these kids all had parents supporting them. But these kids still can hunt if they wish.
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Old October 11, 2000, 04:03 PM   #14
MountainGun44
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It is a parent's responsibility to not enroll his kid in a program he is not ready for. The instructor should not be criticized for the failings of parents. If your 9 year old can't read, maybe the fact that he won't be able to hunt will be incentive to work harder. In most cases, reading is more important than hunting.

I would fail any kid who didn't demonstrate the physical and mental skills needed to be safe in the field.

I am sure many will disagree. I see far too many hunters with a beer in their hand at 7 AM. I am sure they would disagree with me. I think they should be arrested.


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Old October 11, 2000, 04:45 PM   #15
BadMedicine
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I can't believe what I'm hearing from you guys. I would think that on TFL, in the HUNT forum these young kids would be getting a little more support from you guys. These kids are the next generation of hunters, and if you do not allow them to hunt it will soon fall the way that the antis want it to. The only reason that hunting prevails is because of its strong followers who hunt and pass the tradition on, and by saying that you are immature or irresponsible simply because they cannot read is an example of plain ignorance. The native americans couldn't read, didn't even have a written language, yet they hunted and were safe, AND started at a far younger age. They started their kids hunting small game with bows and arrows when they were only 5!! Many adult americans can't read, does this make them immature, or irresponsible?? Since when is reading related to knowing which direction your barrel is pointed? "oh, well kids can't be trusted with firearms.. blah blah blah!" They can't be trusted if you dont trust them! Start with them carrying a BB gun, or an unloaded .22. Make sure it is always pointed in a safe direction, and correct them when it's not. Make sure they hold it right, and can identify game. Then, when you feel they're safe, let them actually hunt with you. I've been hunting since I can remember. Got nmy first two guns when I was 6. a .410, and a .22. You just have to teach your kids young, and forget about whether or not they can read. They won't be sneaking off to go huntin by themselves until they're atleast 16 and can drive, (unless you live out in the bush, and they can walk to where they're hunting, in which case, who cares if they have a Hunters safety card?). I can't believe that you guys would wuss out on the next generation and fail them, fail them the right to hunt, something that you guys talk about constantly, about how the anti's are trying to take it from us, when you won't even pass it on to your own kids. terrible.
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Old October 11, 2000, 05:14 PM   #16
jtduncan
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BadMedicine:

It's the safety that's the issue. I agree. When my two older boys reach 9, they'r coming out with me.

But the key is that if a kid gets hurt in a hunting accident, the antis will off us. And the legislation will fly, and then you'll have to drive to hunt.

BTW _ wildlife told me that we have some feral pigs near the Olympic Forest 2.5 hours from Seattle. I'm going to research it a little more but 200 pounds of bacon, ham, and pork sounds pretty good to me.

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Old October 12, 2000, 12:35 AM   #17
BadMedicine
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Safety? if you want them to be safe, teach them safe techniques. Do you think if you don't take them hunting at all, all of the sudden on their 9th birthday they will know everything there is to know about hunting? You have to teach them. Here's a story about starting kids young.

When I was in second grade, and my brother was in fourth, My dad decided to take us on a 3 day float trip down the Chena river (fairbanks, AK). About 4 hours into the trip we hit a sweeper, and tipped the boat. We were wearing life jackets, and I floated, but my brotehr was wearing hip waiters fastened to his belt loops. When they filled up with water, he sank. I was able to grab some stuff and get to shore, and my dad grabbed the canoe in one hand and erik (then only 9) in the other and wade to shore (he was tall enough). It all worked out. A canoeing class came by and gave us some dry clothes, and some went on downstream to collect more of our stuff. They were so nice, they gave my brother, the one who had already almost died once today, a sock hat with BEAR MACE on it. needless to say, his day sucked, and then just got worse.
When we talk about that trip, my dad always says something like "what the hell was I thinking" "you guys were 7 and 9 years old." The reason he thought we'd be fine is because we had already been canoeing 3 years, and fishing all our lives. I don't blame him, I'm glad he takes us. Instead of going out with his buddies and ditching his kids.
Duncan says "when my kids are 9" why when they're 9? Thats just an irrelevent number. Take your kids hunting, teach them young, and by the time they're 9 they'll be hunting as good as you.
About fishing. My dad said he taught us to fish when we were toddlers, because he wanted us to be baiting our own hooks, and undoing our own tangles when we were 3. And that's how it worked.
If you wait until you're ready to take them out, maybe they'll be "too cool" to hang out with their dad by then, and rather go hang at the mall with their friends on the weekend. When my fiends used to want to go partying I'd have to make a concious effort to think "I dunno, if I party all friday night I wont be able to get up early and hunt saturday." The decision was clear (though there are more than one night per weekend )
I'm tellin' ya, get your kids started hunting/fishing/camping early, and you'll have hunting partners for life.
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Old October 12, 2000, 12:37 AM   #18
BadMedicine
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Oh yeah, and the antis, blow 'em off. They aren't going to like us one way or another, I'm sure as H*ll not going out of my way to please them!
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Old October 12, 2000, 06:35 PM   #19
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1) I agree with BM, teach them early and they will be more likely to stay out of trouble later in life.

2) Screw what the government tells you. If you think your kid is mature enough and safe enough to hunt before the government tells you they are old enough, then take them anyway. If you are caught then pay the fine and take them hunting again.

3) The kid should be able to read well enough to pass the test by 9 years old. You did read to them when they were younger and get them excited about reading didn't you? You do work with them on their homework assignments at night don't you?

4) It is the right thing to do to "fail" them if they can't read the test. The fines the dad gets from the game warden for the kid not having his license should go under the "bad parent tax." It is not the test giver's responsibility to make up for the parent's failings.
 
Old October 12, 2000, 07:55 PM   #20
Field-dressed
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I think we all agree that it's a parental responsibility to teach kids gun safety and hunting skills. My son toddled into his first moose gut pile at age 2, went to his first moose camp at 3 when his gun safety lessons began with daddy(with a rifle carved from an alder elbow)and went on his first deer hunt with me at 5. He's 6 now, has shot pistols and rifles, and can recite gun safety basics. His training continues. In Alaska you don't need a hunters ed. certificate to hunt except for a few urban hunts, but it's coming. Regardless of whether he passes the course at age 9 or 12 (OK 9, he's a smart kid ), he'll still be hunting with me. But as a parent and as an ethical hunter I am NOT going to teach him to disobey state game laws. If he can't pull the trigger on a moose until he gets certified it'll be that much more of an impetus to pass the course. Doesn't mean he won't be in the field with me. If anyone here wants to tell me to raise me boy differently I have this to say: Mind your own damn business!
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Old October 12, 2000, 09:14 PM   #21
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Hmmmm, a good topic this is. Let me relate my own experience. I am 23 years old now. I got my first .22 rifle when I was six. I shot my first ground squirrel somewhere around that time if not earlier with one of my dad's guns. I took my hunter's safety test when I was 8 and passed. I remember my parents making me stay at home and thoroughly study that test. I waited until I was 12 until I was able to hunt deer.

I think that it largely depends on the individual youth on whether they are capable of handling the responsiblity or not. I think 90% of youth are able to hunt just about anything they want, but the key is that they have direct and immediate adult supervision. I probably could have hit a deer at 10 years old if it was standing broad side 75 yards away with a scope rifle and a good rest.

Should the test monitor pass all kids because they can't read? I think that would be very foolish on the test monitor's part. That proctor would be opening themselves to a very nasty liability that could not only sink themselves, but youth hunting programs in general. Plus, why should the standards be lowered because the youth is not performing in school the way they should be? If a 9 year old can not read your basic hunters safety course, there might be some issues in the family that are concerning. If the parents are not making sure their child is at a proficient reading and writing level, what is going to make them supervise and insure the child is at a proficient hunting and safety level? What good is a uneducated hunter? True, there are many old timers who don't have much education and are excellent hunters. They grew up in desperate times when you worked your butt off in order to survive and you learned things through life expereince. Nothing wrong with that.

We are in a new era. If you can't read or write, you are sunk. If you can't read or write, how are you going to write letters your newspaper or other media outlets to defend the hunting experience that we all enjoy? If you are nearly illiterate, what are your chances of doing the necessary research to go out and make an informed vote? What are you chances of caring to vote at all?

These are the questions I think of when I hear of people suggesting that a proctor cheat and pass youth who are unable to even read a hunters safety course test. I think that is a very poor idea and is not going to help that child at all.

"Congratualtions son, you didn't pass, but we lied and now you can go hunting with me!" "Thanks dad, you are my role model."
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Old October 13, 2000, 05:11 PM   #22
Sport
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Maybe I should have emphasized with my
first post that the state requirement is
for a one hundred question WRITTEN test.
To me, that implies the test taker will have to READ it in order to take it.
Believe me, I would like to see every QUALIFIED person in my state purchase a hunting and fishing license. It might put some strain on the resources, but it would
sure get the attention of the lawmakers and antis. That said, I believe the state has
a right to place qualifications -limitations-
on those who wish to use its resources.
If, as in the case of hunters, that means
being able to read in order to take a written
test, so be it.
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