Big Bear hosts Hunters Safety Course as season approaches

Nearly 55 students enrolled in the Big Bear Sportsman's Club's Hunters Safety Course over the weekend. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

Nearly 55 students enrolled in the Big Bear Sportsman’s Club’s Hunters Safety Course over the weekend. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

KALEVA — When the latest heatwave subsides, fall is sure to follow.

And crisp air, crunchy leaves and colorful transitions, for many in Michigan, means hunting season has arrived.

At the Big Bear Sportsman’s Club over the weekend, a new wave of aspiring hunters took part in the club’s Hunters Safety Course, a two-day educational program providing students of all ages the knowledge needed to practice safe hunting and firearm use while in the woods this year.

“We’ve been holding these classes for 17 years now, usually one or two a year,” said Big Bear Sportsman’s president Dave Somsel. “We run anywhere from 50 to 75 (students) per class.”

Big Bear had 55 students enrolled over the weekend, ranging in age from 10 to 45. The course takes students through classroom work as well as hands-on activities in the field, including live fire with .22 caliber rifles and a shotguns.

“It’s primarily geared toward safety,” Somsel said. “It’s two days in the classroom and in the field and then an exam at the end. They get their Hunters Safety certification at the end if they qualify.”

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, here are 10 safety tips to keep in mind this hunting season:

· Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.

· Always point the muzzle in a safe direction.

· Be certain of your target, and what’s beyond it, before firing. Know the identifying features of the game you hunt. Make sure you have an adequate backstop – don’t shoot at a flat, hard surface or water.

· Keep your finger outside the trigger guard and off the trigger until ready to shoot.

· Don’t run, jump or climb with a loaded firearm. Unload a firearm before you climb a fence or tree or jump a ditch. Pull a firearm toward you by the butt, not the muzzle.

· Avoid alcoholic beverages before or during hunting. Also avoid mind- or behavior-altering medicines or drugs.

· All firearm deer hunters on any land during daylight hunting hours must wear a hat, cap, vest or jacket of hunter orange visible from all sides. All hunters, including archers, must comply during gun season.

· Camouflage hunter orange is legal provided 50 percent of the surface area is solid hunter orange. (Exceptions: waterfowl, crow, and wild turkey hunters, and bow hunters for deer during bow season).

· Always let someone know where you are hunting and when you plan on returning. This information helps conservation officers and others locate you if you get lost.

· Carry your cell phone into the woods. Remember to turn your ringer off or set your phone to vibrate rather than ring. Your cellphone emits a signal that can help rescuers locate you when you are lost. Make sure before you leave for the woods each day that your phone is fully charged. If you have a smart phone, download a compass and flashlight app.

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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