On Sunday afternoon, 38 students who ranged in age from 9 to 51 years old graduated from the Arizona Game and Fish Department's hunter education class in ceremonies at the Mohave Sportsman Club's 7 Mile Hill Range.
Those in the class completed more than 35 hours of instruction and training over two weekends that make them responsible, knowledgeable and involved sportsmen and women.
The students in the class learned about the rules and regulations that govern hunting in Arizona as well as how to safely handle firearms and bow and arrows. Demonstrations and specialized instruction by the volunteer staff of Jim Rich, Bob and Deanna Shaw, Rad Green, Bill Riehle, Tony Keller, Jay Chan, Page McDonald, Robert Rodriguez, and Ken and Cristi McReynolds contributed to the success of the class.
These veteran instructors spent hours teaching the students that these tools that are used in hunting are not toys.
Students were taught about the ethical aspect of being a sportsman and I'll bet all of them can tell you why it is so important to be a lawful, respectful and ethical sportsman in today's world.
On a hot and humid afternoon, students went out into the field and demonstrated to the staff that they knew how to properly cross fences and safely take firearms out of vehicles. They all participated in realistic hunting scenarios where they had to identify Arizona's big game and small game species and whether they were in a shoot or don't-shoot situation.
These students can now tell you about zones of fire, what they should do if they ever become lost in the outdoors and how to signal for help if that should ever happen.
The bottom line is this: A thorough course of instruction for kids and adults alike.
But for all the work, there were also many rewards for those who worked so diligently.
In this class there were five students who were nominated for honor graduate status. Those who received that distinction were 10-year-old Logan Martin and 11-year-old Robert Berry, who tied for fourth; 9-year-old Brycen Rodriguez, who was third; 10-year-old Shea Bowen, who was second; and 16-year-old Remington Jorgensen, who was voted top honor graduate by the instructors.
As a special award for this class, those five selected as honor graduates will be nominated for an all-expenses-paid pheasant hunt at Cordes Junction next year.
In addition, the top honor graduate of the class, Remington Jorgensen, was also awarded an overnight striper fishing trip on Lake Mead with a parent or guardian. Jorgensen also drew the name of a fellow classmate who was nominated for the good student award, which is also an overnight striper fishing trip with a parent or guardian.
ed an overnight striper fishing trip on Lake Mead with a parent or guardian. Jorgensen also drew the name of a fellow classmate who was nominated for the good student award, who also won an overnight striper fishing trip with a parent or guardian.
Brady Frost, 10, who came from Oregon to take this class, was chosen to receive that trip.
Other students were chosen to receive some very special prizes.
As the master instructor of this class, I challenged the class and offered any of the young students an overnight fishing trip if they scored a perfect 100 on their final test.
Remington Jorgensen, Shea Bowen and Brycen Rodriguez accomplished that goal. They are all going fishing.
Other prizes were given to students in the class as a result of drawings that were conducted at the conclusion of the class.
A one-day varmint hunting trip with chief instructor Bob Shaw was given away along with a turkey hunt at DAC ranch.
Four pairs of brand new 10 X 50 binoculars that were donated by the Mohave Arms Collector Association were given out, as were compasses, hats, flashlights, DVDs and fluorescent vests.
In the end, every student in the class got a special prize.
For me personally, this class had some extra meaning.
It was my last class as the master hunter education Instructor for Region III.
Under the new rules and procedures that will be adopted by the department later this fall, this position is being slated for elimination.
I decided that after serving as the chief instructor for more than 10 years and the master instructor for the past two years, I was going to step down as a supervisor of the program and just teach the class, which really is my passion.
Chief instructors Jim Rich and Bob Shaw will take over the supervision of the program in Mohave County.
One of my other "bucket list" items was to teach my 10-year-old grandson, Logan Martin, Arizona hunter education.
Logan, who lives in Oklahoma but drew his first big game tag in Arizona this year, will now get to hunt javelina this fall in Unit 18B.
It has been a pleasure and honor to lead the Arizona Hunter Education program in this region for many years.
It is a very worthwhile program and one I'm proud to be associated with.
I hope in the future I can continue to help those in our community who want to learn about the sport that many of us have a deep passion and respect for.
Hunting is a privilege. As such, we as sportsmen and women have responsibilities far above those of a regular citizen.
In my opinion, taking a hunter education class, whether 9 years old or 50, is fulfilling just one of those responsibilities.