Each year, the New York State 4H Shooting Sports conducts various hunter, bow and trapping classes at the 4H training center on Midline Road in Ballston Spa. Last year, they certified over 400 hunters.
One of the largest attendances at these classes is achieved in September. They refer to it as “Super Saturday.” Last Saturday, they again lived up to their reputation in terms of numbers.
In New York, all trappers, firearms and bow hunters are required to pass a written and a hands-on safety course. Before one can take this hands-on safety course, they must complete and pass a home study course or on-line course.
The 4H Shooting Sports supplies free booklets to the students which they must complete and bring with them in order to gain admission to the hands-on course. Those students who complete the on-line course, which costs $24.50, and wish to attend this 4H hands-on course must bring their certificate of completion.
Although this is primarily hands-on, there are also plenty of classroom-like seminars, and I saw quite a bit of individual attention being given to students. I also was very impressed with the courses’ primary objective: safety, safety, safety.
This year, 171 students attended Super Saturday — 74 firearms hunters, 49 bow hunters and 48 trappers. The firearms group had the opportunity to shoot a rifle, shotgun and air pistol. Firearm safety demonstrations were very real and depicted situations all hunters encounter in the woods and on the water. Using wooden rifles, groups of four or five were instructed the proper way to carry their firearm when alone, in groups, climbing over a fence, crossing a small bridge and getting in and out of a boat.
I enjoyed watching the shotgun shooters who took turns shooting at life-sized wild turkey head targets at 17 yards. The instructors, Mick Elliott and Ed Angell, explained the operation of a 20-gauge shotgun, including how to load it, the safety location, importance of hearing and eye protection and how and where to aim.
The young lady I watched, 14-year-old Krista Fowler of Corinth, was right on target, putting plenty of pellets in the head and neck area of the target. Seventy-one of the hunter division that day shot the turkey range.
The archery shooting and instruction also were very impressive. as the instructors did a one-on-one with all the shooters, showed them the proper stance, how to use the pin sites and the importance of a smooth release. I was impressed with the number of bull’s-eye shots I witnessed.
Also a part of the archery, attended by all the shooters, was the demonstration of safe treestand hunting, with emphasis on always wearing a safety belt. I’ve seen this demonstration several times, and I’m still impressed with the safety harness demo by Jim Pettis Jr. who, while standing in the treestand talking, purposely falls from the stand to demonstrate the safety harness which definitely illustrates his point.
I’m always amazed at the number of new trappers each year. It’s nice to know a lot of our youngsters are interested in this age-old sport, one most people don’t realize plays a very important part in our outdoor conservation of the resource. I keep hearing it’s a dying sport. What I saw last Saturday doesn’t support that idea.
The 27 “volunteer” instructors who worked Super Saturday should be commended for their continued dedication and efforts to help keep our tradition of hunting and trapping alive.
Last May, I spent several hours with members of the Upper Hudson River Valley Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association in Washington County, where I and members of the New York State Outdoor Writers Association listened to a presentation led by branch president Tony Rainwater. Their mission is to insure the future of white-tailed deer, wildlife habitat and our hunting heritage.
QDMA will offer a free seminar on “Mature Buck Movements: Ground Breaking Research” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3 in the Schuylerville High School auditorium. Certified biologist and licensed forester Matt Ross of QDMA will speak.
The seminar will cover understanding how mature bucks utilize their home range, daily movements during the rut, impact of age and breeding and understanding the real influences of weather, moon phase and hunting pressure. Refreshments will be provided by the local Future Farmers of America.
Since its beginning, QDMA has recognized the importance of introducing the younger generation to hunting. They’ll host a free Youth Training Day Saturday, Oct. 5, at the Hudson Falls Fish & Game Club. The agenda includes: introduction to deer hunting and quality deer management; special deer regulations with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; anatomy and shot placement; range time with instructors; connecting with QDMA members and hunting mentors. Reservations and successful Hunter Education Course completion are required prior to Oct. 5. Call Ray Purdy, 222-4075.
QDMA will sponsor a Youth Hunt Celebration Dinner at the Hudson Falls Fish & Game Club Sunday, Oct. 13. This dinner is free to all youth hunters and families.