Story last updated at 11:22 a.m. Thursday, July 11, 2002

Hunter education to be required
by Sepp Jannotta
Staff Writer

Throughout much of the U.S., novice hunters are required to take a safety course before they purchase a hunting license.

When hunting season kicks off here next month, Alaska will join those states mandating some kind of hunter education.

Beginning Aug. 1, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will require a hunter education course for all hunters born after Jan. 1, 1986. Any hunter under 16 who has not completed a Fish and Game-certified hunter education course, must be accompanied by a hunter 16 or older who has completed an approved course.

The new regulations have been in the works for years, said Fish and Game biologist Gino Del Frate. Implementation has been held up as officials struggled to find a way to bring the courses and instructors to the Bush. In 1999, the department decided to implement the regulations solely for hunting units along the road system.

"We've been trying to get the word out, and it's been in the (hunting regulations) book saying, 'it's coming, it's coming, it's coming.'" Del Frate said. "And now it's here."

Fish and Game pushed back the implementation date from the original target of 2000 to allow the public more opportunity to enroll in the hunter education courses.

Last spring, Fish and Game offered several courses on the lower peninsula, all of which were full.

The department will offer three more courses later this month, with two-day courses in Homer starting July 26 and 27 and a one-day class in Anchor Point on July 29. The classes are restricted to 24 students each. Contact Fish and Game at 235-8191 for details on those classes.

Del Frate said the courses are following a new format that allows students to complete a workbook at home prior to coming to class. The classes consist of a review session followed by some gun handling and demonstrations, a firing session at a gun range, and a written test.

On the Kenai Peninsula, hunting season goes into full swing on Aug. 10 with the opening of seasons for mountain goat, Dall sheep, caribou, upland birds and moose taken by bow and arrow.