more impressive to the adults than to the youngsters, was the psychological development of the typical hunter. According to Agent Evans, the first stage of hunting is the Shoot Something Phase. This is followed by the Limiting Out Phase, which is when people consider themselves to have failed if they come home with less than a limit. Then there's the Trophy Phase, which does not need explanation.
Further along is the Method Phase, in which type of equipment and the techniques of hunting and its mental challenges are of primary importance in the overall hunt. Finally, the mature hunter exhibits signs of the Philosophical Phase. In this phase, the hunter enjoys the total experience of being in nature, and harvesting game is of secondary importance.
I was amazed to learn that only 10 percent of the people in this country are pro-hunting, and only 10 percent could be considered anti-hunting. The other 80 percent of the population is, in Agent Evan's words, watching us. When we act without respect, we tarnish the image of hunters.
My son's increased awareness of ethical behavior became obvious to me on the way home from the first class. He said, "Mom, it's just like Mr. Evans said. If I take more than my limit of an animal, someone will know I did that. I will know. That is something I'd have to live with [being a poacher]."
Agent Evans was right: The test was geared toward 12-year-olds. Maybe that's why they all finished and were out of the class with temporary permits by the time I was rechecking my answers. Then, I heard my son's voice in the hallway as he told his friend, "I got a 100 percent!" The pressure was on and I checked my answers one more time. Finally, my big moment came and I, too, passed with nary a red mark on my answer sheet, proving that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
I highly recommend that parents take a hunter education class with their children. My husband plans on taking it with our teenage daughter next fall. Although she shoots targets with us at the local range, she has no interest in learning to hunt (yet).
She will, though, benefit from the overall experience of hunter education, and I want her to be exposed to the ideals embodied in the course. My husband and I could not teach her the principles of hunter education at home as well as the instructors do in a 12-hour class.
This course is possibly one of the most important courses that my child will ever take. Hunter education, though, is not just for children. I came away from the course with an increased awareness of the necessity for strict self-control whenever using a firearm. I also learned that a good hunter has respect for life-his life, his companion's life, and the animal's life