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Old June 9, 2013, 11:36 AM   #1
Greybeard
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Join Date: April 7, 2002
Location: Denton County Texas
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Proposed changes to TX Hunter Ed Program

A copy and paste below of e-mail received last Thursday.

Below it is a copy and paste of TPWD's May 23,2013 press release included as Mr. Russells' attachment.

Below that is an e-mail received from Mr. Robert Ramirez the day after he and Ms. Herron had presented the proposed rule changes to the Commission on May 22. If interest in listening to the audio of that, it begins at about the 55 to 60% point.
Warning: Portions of it may very well make you angry. Or want to puke.
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publication ... ession.mp3

As already expressed to Ms. Herron, my prediction is that, if passed, at least 75% of the current and upcoming generations of hunters will opt "learn" their gun handling safety, skills, attitudes and ethics on a computer screen - or an I-Phone, because it is "convenient".
------------------------------
Fellow Hunter Education Instructors, it was good to visit with many of you on the phone today, and I appreciate those of you who returned calls or sent emails based on the messages I left. Let me quickly introduce myself by saying that I have been instructing Texas hunter education courses for seven years. I serve on the board of the Texas Hunter Education Instructors Association as the District 8 representative ( Northeast Texas .) And last year for the second consecutive year I saw over 975 participants come through my classes, many of those team-taught with my teaching partner, Rod Craig, also of Tyler .

If you will go to the last issue of “Target Talk,” http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publication ... _12_12.pdf ,
and scroll down to page 8 to the letter addressed, “Dear Steve Russell,” you will probably have a very clear idea why you are hearing from me with every means of communication I can use to reach out to you. (The other letters are pretty cool, too!)

I have attached a proposal up for comment at this time that will come before the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission in late August. I hope you will read it carefully. I do not know the origin of the proposal nor its originator(s.) Therefore, even though this matter is extremely personal to me, it is not a personal conflict with someone. My chief objection to the proposal is that it completely destroys the role of and the need for the volunteer hunter education instructor.

All of us who have done very much service in this arena know that the overwhelming majority of those who attend our classes are there because they, by law and threat of citation, have to be. However almost everyone is shocked to learn that in the mid-1960’s when I began quail hunting beside my dad and behind an array of setters and pointers, it was not unusual for hunting related fatalities to exceed thirty-five deaths in our state! I believe a direct relationship exists between that number being reduced to a record low of two just two years ago and the requirement for hunter education. It should also be noted that last year Texas set a record of over 45,000 participants in hunter education. No serious person would dare to challenge the success of hunter education in Texas , and that success was built on the foundation of dedicated volunteers like you and me.

The current proposal destroys the need for a qualified course instructor by adding to the current law permitting youth age sixteen and under to hunt with a qualified adult. That addition permits those seventeen and older to complete hunter education certification via an “online only” course and examination. Succinctly put, those under sixteen will hunt with an adult; those seventeen and over will do the work online; and the result will be empty classes because people will naturally pursue the least burdensome way to hunt legally. No instructor will be necessary.

I am not going to give you the full transcript of my objections to this proposal, but I do want to list quickly a summary of my position and beliefs:

•Something done “on a computer” does not mean better. Technology is not a god; it is a tool. There are some skills and attitudes that are better mentored than simply read and regurgitated.

•Going from minimal exposure to safely handling a firearm to no exposure is a giant step in the wrong direction. Anyone want an automotive technician working on your brakes who has never held a wrench, but who watched the procedure very carefully and who made 75 on the test? This proposal makes a mockery of safety.

•Few hunting scenarios from the outdoors can be replicated on a two-dimensional computer screen.

•Which is more convincing to describe the great American family heritage and traditions of hunting, a sixty year-old, grey-haired hunter with nearly fifty years of hunting experience and a significant hearing loss, or a statement on a screen to try to capture that image? (Pardon the self-portrait.)

•When someone tells you “ethics” is what you do when no one is watching, you need to look that someone in the eye to see if he or she really believes it.

•When an instructor advocates “fair chase,” “clean kill,” and “collecting the harvest,” and when he or she teaches that hunting, as a tool of wildlife conservation, has secured the preservation of wildlife and habitat for generations to come, how is that sense of conviction going to come from a computer screen? An instructor can make a participant feel the effects of wildlife experiencing diseases, predation, and starvation. Can a computer?

I could go on, each of you could add more and more on top of whatever I might say. But let me ask two final questions: How much more are we going to “dumb down” everything before we realize we are just dumb? How much dehumanizing will we accept before we wake up, and we aren’t human?

We won’t all agree on the details—how long should a hunter education class last, etc.—but I know many of you share my general feelings because you told me so and because you and I are on the front lines of this effort. Whoever made this proposal did it from a desk, not a deer or duck blind or from a hunter education class.

If you agree with me, please feel free to forward this email entirely or in part, with or without your additional statements, to Nancy Herron, TPWD Outreach & Education Director, who is receiving comments prior to the Commissioners meeting: nancy.herron@tpwd.state.tx.us . Thank you for listening and reading, and I hope you will respond according to your own conscience and experience. Best wishes and good hunting.

STEVE RUSSELL, 903-530-4338
http://www.empoweringtexasyouth.org
http://www.texashuntereducation.com
-------------------------------------------------

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/r ... &nrsearch=

Print – Plain Text – Permalink

News Release
Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.state.tx.us

May 23, 2013

TPWD Proposals Aim to Streamline Hunter Education Process
AUSTIN – Proposed changes to the state’s hunter education certification program would streamline the process for the tens of thousands of Texans who take the course annually, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials.

Anyone born after Sept. 1, 1971, must successfully complete a Hunter Education Training Course to hunt in Texas.

Under current rules, hunters can take the traditional two-day course that must be spread over a minimum of 10 hours, or they can opt to take the self-paced knowledge-based portion online home study. Students must then complete a four-hour field training class for certification.

TPWD is proposing a suite of options that could reduce the time commitment for completion of the course by half. By streamlining the curriculum, officials suggest the classroom portion of the process could be reduced to five hours. The field training class length would remain unchanged. Nothing in the proposed changes prohibits students from taking advanced workshops on hunter education topics of special interest or more extensive curriculum offered in high school and college courses.

For students 16 years of age and older, TPWD is proposing the option of an online instruction only certification that would eliminate the required field training component. Active duty military and certain veterans are already exempted by law from the live fire component of courses that involve live fire.

“Our hunter education courses serve a wide variety of students,” said Nancy Herron, TPWD Outreach and Education Director. “One may be a nine-year-old with a parent in tow, another a teenager taking a class in school, and then an experienced 60-year-old preparing for big game hunting in another state. Providing additional course options will make getting hunter certification more convenient and better fit our students’ needs.”

To pass the current course options, students must take a 50-question written exam and get 70 percent correct if they take the traditional two-day course or 80 percent if they take the course online. TPWD is proposing to standardize the passing grade for all options to a minimum score of 75.

The certification is valid for life and is honored in all other states.

Public comment on the proposed changes can be made online at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/fe ... c_comment/ or to Nancy Herron, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas, 78744; (512) 389-4362 (e-mail: nancy.herron@tpwd.state.tx.us). If adopted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its August 22 public meeting, students could begin taking advantage of the new process this fall.
------------------------------------------------------
Greeting instructors,

2013 marks the 25th Anniversary of mandatory Hunter Education in Texas. I am excited about the new proposals for the expansion of the Hunter Education program. The proposed changes illustrate a “back to basics” approach to Hunter Education but reiterate the role of the volunteer instructor as a vital component of Hunter Education. I would like to assure each and every one of you that volunteers will always be a vital part of the Hunter Education program. “Hunter Education is a core function of Texas Parks and Wildlife,” stated Executive Director Carter Smith. Hunter safety is paramount to volunteers, TPWD leadership, and the general public. TPWD will not waiver with regards to hunting safety to ensure the continuation of the hunting heritage that is so deeply embedded in the soul of the citizens of this great State. Your continued dedicated service will be vital for the transition to the changes pending Commission approval. None of the proposed changes will go into effect until Commission ruling on August 22, 2013.

The proposed changes presented to the Commission will allow for Hunter Education certification by:
One day classroom course; not to exceed 5 hours of classroom course work)
Home study with a field day; not to exceed 5 hours of field day activities)
Online instruction course for citizens who are 16 years of age are older.

Our goal in an online course is to use technology in a way that challenges the student with hunting safety scenarios. We will use images and video scenarios to show proper hunting skills and in shoot-don't-shoot, what's wrong with this picture (muzzle control, finger not outside the trigger guard, etc.), questions to test students. We will always look for the best techniques for teaching and testing safety skills, whether it is for in-person or online study. Again, all proposals are pending TPWD Commission approval on August 22, 2013. Therefore, operations will continue as usual until final approval in August. Preparations are being made by Hunter Education staff for the change once approval is granted. Our headquarter staff has been diligent in creating tools for the instructor, which include items that focus the curriculum on the basics of Hunter Education. There will be regional trainings and online teaching tools under instructor resources aid in the transition as we move forward.

Our hope is that more people will take Hunter Education for the following reasons: it will be accessible, flexible, and convenient. Another aspect of this expansion is to offer advanced workshops or mentored hunts giving the instructor more opportunities to impart their vast skill and knowledge in hunting.

Lastly, everyone will have the opportunity to post their comments on the following link once the proposals are posted to the Texas Registry: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/fe ... c_comment/ or to Nancy Herron, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas, 78744; (512) 389-4362 (e-mail: nancy.herron@tpwd.state.tx.us). If adopted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at its August 22 public meeting, students could begin taking advantage of the new process this fall.

Thank you for dedication and commitment to the Texas Hunter Education Program. I would like to leave with a final quote that summarizes your volunteerism “Volunteers don't just do the work ~ they make it work”. -Carol Pettit


Sincerely,
Robert Ramirez
TPWD Hunter education Manager
512-389-8140
-----------------------------------------------

It was good to see that Ray Sasser, normally very supporative of TPWD, also promptly jumped on the issues with both feet.. http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/more-s ... ckfire.ece

"Hunter education is effective. TPWD started mandatory hunter education in 1988. From 1966 through 1987, the state averaged 78.4 hunter accidents and 19.3 hunting-related fatalities per season. Since 1988, the average number of accidents has declined to 43.3 per season, and fatalities have been reduced to 5.6 per season. Why change a program that’s worked so well?"

Unfortunately, it’s human nature to do things the easy way. Otherwise, hunter education would never have been mandatory. Hunters would have realized the need for such classes and taken them voluntarily.

“Our hunter education courses serve a wide variety of students,” Herron said. “Providing additional course options will make hunter certification more convenient and better fit our students’ needs.”

It doesn’t get much more convenient than online courses, which currently hold students to a higher testing standard.

Students must take a 50-question test. Students who take the two-day course must correctly answer 70 percent of the questions. Online students must correctly answer 80 percent. The proposal would make 75 the passing score for all options.

Hunter education has never been about convenience, nor should it be. If anything, the minimum acceptable test score should be higher.

Every student should witness the damage that can be done at close range by even a .410 shotgun or a .22 rifle. If you’re not just a little bit afraid of a gun, you shouldn’t be handling one.

There’s no question that hunter education works in Texas, but it’s not perfect. During the 2012-13 season, there were 25 reported accidents and five fatalities. None of the shooters involved in the fatalities had taken hunter education. One shooter was 13 and another was 9. One of the victims was 12.

Texas doesn’t need less hunter education with lower testing expectations. Texas needs more hunter education with higher testing expectations. Public comment on proposed changes can be made online at tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/ public_comment/."
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Old June 9, 2013, 12:14 PM   #2
Doyle
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Fl has gone to a half online and half classroom method. It seems to be working pretty well. Nobody is ever going to truely learn safe gun handling in only 2 days - no matter how it is taught. The best you can hope for is to get some common sense thinking started.
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Old June 9, 2013, 12:32 PM   #3
arch308
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I'm 57 years old and the only hunter ed I got was from other hunters and friends/family. I have been hunting for 30+ years and have never had a hunting accident. I have never been in favor of manditory hunter education. If a person wants to attend these classes that's fine but making it a requirement is going too far. I can't remember the last time I heard of a bad hunting accident that would have been prevented by a hunter ed class.
You can't teach common sense and you can't fix stupid.
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Old June 9, 2013, 02:51 PM   #4
Doyle
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Quote:
I can't remember the last time I heard of a bad hunting accident
If you belong to some of the hunting forums, you'll hear of some. The most common accident here in Fl seems to be during turkey season. Combine idiots who shoot at anything that moves with lots of hunters wearing serious camouflage and you get a higher incidence of accidents.
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Old June 9, 2013, 05:30 PM   #5
Greybeard
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http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publicat...ter_education/ Accident reports for the past 10 years indicate that, on average, 70 to 80% of the time, the triggermen/trigger women had never attended a hunter education class. Excerpts from 2012 summary:

TEXAS HUNTING
INCIDENT PROFILE
 Violated a cardinal rule of hunter
safety—incidents were preventable
 Average age in the twenties
 Hunted deer with rifle; hog with
handgun/rifle; or dove/quail with
shotgun
 Was not under the influence of alcohol
 Did not attend a hunter education
(safety) course or program
 Did not wear any type of hunter orange
clothing

The craziness is not limited to just younger people:
2011 FATAL INCIDENTS Included Male Shooters Ages 58 and 61.
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Old June 12, 2013, 12:11 AM   #6
big al hunter
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Quote:
I can't remember the last time I heard of a bad hunting accident that would have been prevented by a hunter ed class. You can't teach common sense and you can't fix stupid.
Statistics show a nation wide decrease in hunting incidents since Hunter education started. You should thank a hunter education instructor for helping make that happen.

Washington has gone to an on-line option as well. A 4 hour class and skills evaluation is still required. We are also now registering for classes on-line only. Several instructors have quite because of the registration changes. It seems we are also headed for an all on-line class eventually. Most of the instructors I know, myself included, don't like the idea. I would be ok with it if there was an age limit ( you must be 21 years old to take the on-line only class) some things can not be evaluated over the computer.
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Old June 12, 2013, 02:25 PM   #7
Wild Bill Bucks
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Only hunter safety course I got when I started was from my Dad, when I wasn't paying attention and let a single shot .410 shotgun go off by accident, and he used the empty shotgun to bust my britches. After that, I was about as safe with a gun as anyone could get.
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Old June 12, 2013, 06:41 PM   #8
arch308
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I'm not against training at all, just the fact that it is manditory.
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Old June 12, 2013, 07:23 PM   #9
Pahoo
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Some Iowa Input

Quote:
I'm not against training at all, just the fact that it is manditory.
However, in no way does it infringe on "our" 2A rights. As in most if not all states, the certificate is only required when a young hunter turns 16 and only for those that were born after January 1st. 1972. The training is not required for old farts like us. Statistics have proven that this training saves lives. ..
Any one that doubts the benefits is more than welcomed to attend one of our classes. You don't have to sign up, just show up keep an open mind and judge for yourself. Heck, I'll even let you shoot one of my SideLocks. at every class, we have parents who accompany their kids. Class after class, some of these adults, register for one of our next classes. We even have students that are really not interested in hunting but instead, an instroducion to shooting and firearms. Many non hunters will take our class prior to enrolling in a CCW class. Go figure. ....
After our classes, the compliments are nice but we value the; Thank You's even more.

Greybeard
In one way or another, we have had these classes for a number of years and it is constantly changing. We are trying to have an age limit of 16 and over. It should not come as a surprise to you but there have been more glitches in these programs than you can imagine. At one of our informational, I got so frustrated, I walked out. It's a hard pull with too many mistakes but it is getting better.. ...


Statistics.
Every year, we have our Spring Workshop and go over proposed changes for the coming year. We also get detailed documentation on the previous seasons Hunting accidents. Some are just plain stupid and Y'all know that is hard to cure. Every year we see and improvement and it does make a difference....

Join the party and;
Be Safe !!!
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Old June 15, 2013, 07:22 AM   #10
Greybeard
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Pahoo - Ya, lotsa changes since I came on board in the 90s. As was explained to me by the prior administration, Texas was the first state to develop a home study + field day option in 1999 via a $15 Outdoor Life packet. Then went online (with gobs of glitches) with similar around 2002. Other local instructors and I have topped 400 students per year that way since, with very positive feedback from students once they got around to gettin er done. I suspect the new current administration is making the suggestions not only for student convenience, but also their own.

I plan to reiterate to the big dogs later this summer at least one of the lines from Alan Madisons video The Measure of The Hunt: The attitudes and values that you develop NOW will impact the way you hunt for the rest of your lives.
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Old June 17, 2013, 01:43 PM   #11
Husqvarna
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I much much rather hunt or shoot with young people, I know they have gone thru hunters ed (even a requirement for rifle-licenses over here so even a bigger deal) but the old farts haven't sure most of them are safe but in the few cases where I have been near a.ds and similar it has been the old dudes. and just habits I don't care for, carrying their rifles vertically, the bolt pushed forward and a bunch of stuff
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Old June 18, 2013, 05:13 AM   #12
okiewita40
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Here i OK. they have go to he whole online hunter ed. thing also. I don't like it. I first took my hunters ed. in the late 70's in Kansas. I took it again when my son got his in about 2008. And I also went with my daughter just last fall.

I think there is something to be said for sitting in a classroom and actually seeing what is going on. And being able to ask questions. Plus it was a great way for me to spend some quality time with my kids.

That is something that one will not get out of an online class.
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Old June 18, 2013, 11:13 AM   #13
Pahoo
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Working with kids is best !!!

Quote:
And being able to ask questions. Plus it was a great way for me to spend some quality time with my kids.
I totally agree and that is why we are trying to exclude kids 16 and under from taking the internet classes. Now, in Iowa, there is still a required 4hr. field day, where we come together with hands on and take a final test. ...

One problem, is lack of sponsors, volunteers and locations. There is an added load of adult hunters who were not required to take Hunter Ed. for their state but are required by another state. Colorado and Wyoming Elk hunting is a good example. These hunters can take it in Iowa and pay nothing or take it out there; wait and pay. ....

Be Safe !!!
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Old June 18, 2013, 11:16 PM   #14
Gbro
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I agree with you GreyBeard,

Minnesota has the On-line through www.Huntersexam.com
I choose to teach Traditional classes and i have had many many parents thank us because they want their children to learn in a classroom, not on a computer.
I do like the structure of the online course and i do encourage the students to register and use the course as a study guide. I have required the online up to the point of printing out a voucher and submitting the funds for hardship situations.
Minnesota is right now in the process of re-evaluating firearms safety in the state and have been holding meeting in all regions for input. One has to be invited into the meeting.
One of the huge factors of a state looking to restructure is all about liability IMO, There are Negligent discharges in firearms safety!
An area that I addressed that IMO leads to the wrong people being involved is awards and incentives. There was talk of a firearms safety instructor getting free hunting licenses and such. I am totally against such things.
To hold on for 30 years so that you get a nice gift, although very nice is the wrong reason to be involved.
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