Kristen Lodge: Hunter’s education ethics & responsibility 101 |

Kristen Lodge: Hunter’s education ethics & responsibility 101

Kristen Lodge / Outdoor AdventuresGrand County, CO Colorado

Kristen Lodge / Sky-Hi NewsCirenda Cordova, 8, from Kremmling takes her shots to earn her Hunter Education Certificate in Hot Sulphur Springs on Sunday, May 8, as instructor Jodie Boxell watches.

I’ve been reading about the Paleo Diet, the popular cave man diet based on eating the food types our ancient ancestors ate. I started having visions of my freezer filled with game such as elk, pheasant, quail, and wild turkey; getting lean on this diet.The first step was to sign up for hunter education. I called the instructor, Jodie Boxell, and asked him point blank: Do I need to shoot a gun to get my certification. A resounding “yes.”Despite wanting to have a freezer filled with meat, I’ve never held or fired a gun. He said, “You will load and shoot a single-shot .22.”I might need to rethink this. I envisioned that the class would be mostly adults in a classroom setting, and that I would fall asleep while an instructor droned on and on about firearms and safety. I was so wrong. The first day Jodie discussed the ethics and responsibility of hunting. I felt like I was in a college philosophy class; not boring at all. There were more kids under 16 than adults, and they asked a lot of questions.Scott Murdock, district wildlife manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, spoke during the first hour about laws and regulations for hunting. His job: to help protect people, wildlife, and land.He quizzed us, and every youngster raised their hands to answer. They asked several “what if,” questions and Scott answered each one.”What if I have a license for a bull, it moves when I shoot and I accidentally hit a cow?” and on and on. It made the class more interesting, and those kids really wanted to know and understand the laws; they wanted to do it right. We learned about conservation and habitat.”Hunters are the soul of conservation, the money for restoration projects come from them,” Jodie said.Here are some of the best ideas Jodie shared with us during the three days:Start with the knowledge and build skill. You love the animals, you try to explain to people who don’t understand hunting. Hunting is more humane than the alternative. It’s the easiest way out for the animals.Whether it is hunting, football, or basketball, Do it right. Go by the rules, play fair.Day 2 we learned about gun safety: Rule No. 1 – Always treat a gun like it’s loaded.”Always be absolutely sure of your target.”The most interesting statistic Jodie discussed was the 80 percent Rule – 80 percent of the population doesn’t have an opinion about hunting. They didn’t grow up with it, they don’t think about it, and most likely, they don’t care.About 10 percent of the population doesn’t like hunting or hunters. About 10 percent of the population cares about hunting. I didn’t grow up with hunting and didn’t think about it until I moved to the mountains. Jodie shared with the class his passion for the outdoors. He told us to treat the outdoors well and to behave ethically. “Animals deserve dignity and compassion,” he said.He has been hunting since he was 5 years old and has been teaching this class for 12 years.His class gave me an understanding of the ethics and responsibilities all hunters should have, and my perspective on hunting has changed. I’m now part of the 10 percent that cares about hunting. On the final day I passed the written test and shot a .22 rifle five times to get my certificate. I’m not sure if I will actually hunt this year, despite liking the idea that my freezer is filled with meat so I can start the Paleo diet, but I’m not quite sure if I can kill an animal, yet. Jodie taught us that being ethical, compassionate, and responsible outdoor lovers, regardless of what we are doing – hunting, hiking, fishing – will change us, and it will become a way of life, a good life.”There’s not enough of us like that, but there should be. Get attuned to the outdoors and love it. We are dependent on it; it’s our habitat, we can’t live without it.”There was so much more we learned. You should take the class.