August 21, 2013 | Vol. 25 Edition 34

Hunter education class coming to Valdez

Two-part certification in safety combines the virtual and the real

It’s late August, and the fishing is good, but Alaskans can feel that subtle chill in the air harkening what some call autumn, but others call hunting season.

Valdez Star photo
The Alaska Hunting Regulations guided published by ADF&G is free and available in Valdez at the Trooper office in the state building on Meals St.

Moose, caribou and bears and other game are calling as Alaska’s various game units open to hunting.

In preparation for the upcoming season, many in Valdez have been looking for information on hunter education programs and Alaska’s Dept. of Fish and Game is eager to help and is offering its two-part hunter education program in Valdez.

Cost is the cost for the online and field day combined course is a bargain at only $15.

“You pay that before you take the written test, that’s the only time you have to pay,” said Ginamarie Smith, fish and game’s southcentral coordinator for hunting information and education.

The cost covers the online class and all materials for the field day, which includes loaner firearms and ammunition for the firearms safety portion of the class.

Participants must complete the online portion of the class before signing up for the field day.

“Those that complete both will be IHEA (International Hunter Education Association) certified,” Smith said. “It’s a lifetime certification and it’s good in any state.”

Beginning the process is easy according to Smith.

To begin the hunter education class, go online to adfg.alaska.gov and click on the education bar located near the top of the homepage. From there, click on the “upcoming events” button. It will show the class schedule for the field day events all across Alaska.

In Valdez, the field day will be held Saturday, September 28 from 1-5 p.m. at Prince William Sound Community College.

Before you can sign up for the field day, hunters must complete the online course that is also linked on the class schedule.

“It can take four to eight hours,” Smith said, noting it contains reading chapters, reviews on hunting basics with topics such as the four rules of firearm safety, survival skills, first aid, hunting ethics and more.

Sound difficult? Give it shot anyway.

“There’s a practice test people can take,” Smith said. And better yet, you don’t have to pay for the class until you take the actual test.

“To become eligible for admittance to the mandatory Field Day, take the 50 question Field Day Qualifier Exam. There is a $15.00 charge for the online exam,” the ADFG website says. “This fee is collected after you pass. A score of 80% is required for passing the exam.”

After completing the online course, you’ll be ready to sign up for the field day class.

The four-hour field days consists of a number of components, including firearm handling with non-functioning guns, a 22 caliber exercise with live firearms and ammo, and plenty of safety education.

“The students watch that (video) about an actual fire arm accident that happened,” Smith said.

The live field day course is taught by IHEA volunteers. There are limited spots available for the class, so it’s best to sign up early after completing the online portion of the certification process. In fact, it is recommended hunters take the online class well in advance of the scheduled field day. It can take up to three days for ADF&G to receive the results of a participant’s online test results and you cannot officially sign up for the field day until final proof of completion of the online portion is verified by the state.

It is also each hunter’s responsibility to make sure each hunt is conducted legally. This means having the right licenses and permits, as well as complying with regulations that vary greatly from one game unit to another and from one game species to another.

Trapping is another wildlife-based activity that lends itself to education. In fact, in Valdez it is mandatory that trappers complete an education course before setting traps within legal boundaries of the city limits.

Bill Comer, chief of the Valdez Police Dept. said dates for trapping classes in Valdez will be set before the November season begins.

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