The all-day course will take place Saturday, Feb. 16, culminating in an exam, which will allow those that pass to leave with their hunter safety certificate in hand.
Spaces are limited for the free course, so Conservation Ranger Zack Hardy and Corporal Byron Young suggest interested students reserve their spot soon.
The course will be held at the Bartow County Woodmen of the World clubhouse at 736 Sugar Valley Road just in time to allow new hunters to get a few hunting days in before small game season ends Thursday, Feb. 28.
“Chasing bushy tail squirrels or those fast-paced rabbits, is a great way for a young hunter to begin his or her hunting career,” Hardy stated in a release. “Small game is more abundant in most places and is harvested with smaller caliber-type firearms which are easier and better for children to learn with. These two game animals are also a great way to use hunting dogs to seek out the game for the hunter. Mixing hunting dogs with hunting small game can keep the beginners interested at all times during the hunt.”
As the season continues for squirrel, racoon and possum, DNR rangers ask hunters to practice safety first and be mindful of all laws, including hunter safety certificates if not on personally owned property and wearing at least 500 square inches of fluorescent orange above the waist.
“Hunting without fluorescent orange is probably No. 1,” Young said. “It seems to be a continuing problem every year and that’s a huge safety concern.”
Rangers also saw a lot of action during this year’s deer season, including one incident that stood out and gained attention. Tracking down the suspects took almost all of the area’s officers, as the case involved two hunters illegally hunting on Department of Transportation property within the Interstate 75 right of way over bait. With several sites located, rangers found the problem spanned several interstate miles with a number of hunting sites.
“In this case, the suspects were parking or getting dropped off on the side of 75 and hunting right on the fence, trespassing all the way, hunting from basically Cartersville all the way to Kennesaw,” Young said. “They said they’ve been hunting it for eight or nine years. ... Our whole work section worked on it and when contact was made, they found out they had about five different locations scattered between Bartow and Cobb.
“Hunting without permission was the first offense, that’s a concern for others on the property that didn’t know they were there but of course being that close to the highway was a concern and in some cases, they were hunting over bait — so there were several issues.”
Violations like those seen in recent hunting seasons is what rangers hope to reduce by encouraging hunters to become educated in how to hunt safely and properly. The Feb. 16 course will begin at 8 a.m. and last approximately eight hours with a break for lunch. Instructors will cover gun safety, first aid, hunter ethics, tree-stand safety and survival.
To register, visit www.gohuntgeorgia.com or call the DNR Wildlife Resources Division Calhoun office at 706-624-1367.