Trapping classes offered free of charge
(Reprinted from above link)
Hunting and trapping are popular activities in Greene County, but without proper knowledge on techniques and the latest laws and regulations, these activities can be dangerous. In order to offer that knowledge to community members, the Pennsylvania Game Commission holds free hunting-trapping education courses.
Typically, courses are offered once or twice a month from March to September at locations in Greene County in preparation for hunting and trapping season, said Chris Bence, Greene County game warden. Those locations include sportsmen’s clubs, the grange and fire halls.
All the courses offered throughout the state follow the same format: a six-hour or longer examination of the contents of the hunter’s digest. Subjects covered include basic firearm knowledge and safe handling, wildlife conservation and management, outdoor safety and survival, basic and advanced hunting techniques, trapping and fur taking basics, basic shooting and safe hunting skills and expanding hunting opportunities. The minimum age to take a course is 11 years.
By law, all first-time hunters and trappers, regardless of age, must successfully complete a Hunter-Trapper Education course before they can buy a license. A training certificate, which is recognized throughout North America, is awarded at the end of the course.
The training consists of online independent study and classroom training. Prior to attending a class, participants must complete online independent study which will take approximately four hours. The classroom training sessions last six hours, and participants are required to pass a certification exam at the end of the class.
To register for classes and access the online training, log onto pgc.state.pa.us, and click on the Hunter-Trapper Education Classes link. Those ages 16 and older can also take the course entirely online on any device by paying a fee of $19.99.
“You get a lot more out of taking the course in person because you get a lot of hands-on experience seeing the guns, traps and different techniques,” Bence said. “Out in the field, a game warden can check online to see if a hunter or trapper has taken the course and obtained his or her certificate. If you happen to lose your certificate, you can go online and request a duplicate.”
Bence said the Greene County courses are well attended. Typically, 20 to 40 people attend each course. Most of the attendees range in age from 11 to 21, but some adults and older people also sit in on the sessions. Between four and six instructors lead the courses, and lunch is sometimes served by the hosting venue.
At the latest course, offered last Saturday at the Bobtown Rod and Gun Club, six instructors, five of them volunteers, offered their expertise to 28 participants. Both Bud Vanata of Dilliner and Neil Phillips, also of Dilliner, were once deputy game wardens and taught the courses for 40 years. Phillips also taught the course in Monongalia County, West Virginia.
“It’s something I do for the kids,” Vanata said. “I love the sport and enjoy teaching others how to do it properly,” added Phillips.
Bernie Danko, 12, of Bobtown, took the class to enable him to hunt with his father, also named Bernie.
“I find the course very educational, and the best part is going over the gun parts and learning how a gun works,” the younger Bernie Danko said.
The elder Bernie Danko said he has hunted for 42 years. “I think the course should be taught in the schools,” he said. “It would teach girls how to protect themselves. Two, a lot of kids are not into hunting but do play in the woods. Some ride four-wheelers and should know there are people out there with loaded guns.”
According to Mike Logue, director of the Rod and Gun Club, the organization has been hosting the courses every year since 1974. “We do it for the kids in the community and surrounding area, and everyone is welcome to join us,” he said.
Currently, the club has 589 members and has a shooting range. They also hold holiday events for area children.
Among those taking the course were Joe and Melanie Lauterbach, who drove to Bobtown from South Fayette (Allegheny County). Joe explained that, as a pilot based in Anchorage, Alaska, he’s only home for two weeks each month. Because Melanie wants to start hunting, they registered for the course in Bobtown, because it was offered at a time when he was back home.
“Our volunteer instructors are the key to the success of the courses,” said Brandon Bonin, game warden from Fayette County. “We couldn’t do this without them.”
The next hunter-trapper course in Greene County is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 14 at the Mount Morris Sportsmen’s Club, 366 Watkins Run Road in Mount Morris. To register online for this or future courses, go to pgc.state.pa.us.