Jeff Simonides is a California State Hunter Safety Instructor specializing in Shooting Sports.
• Past 4-H Shooting Sports Leader
Hunter Safety Class
This 3-day class (minimum 14 hours) is held once a month and is designed for both adults and children. You must attend both days to finish the class. The requested donation is $20 per person. To make a reservation email us.
Thursday, March 13
California Hunter Safety Training
In a continued effort to reduce firearm accidents, the State of California requires all first time resident hunters, regardless of age, to complete hunter safety training or pass a comprehensive equivalency test before purchasing a hunting license.
We offer a 3-day hunter safety training class once a month in Santee. The class is designed for both adult men and women and children. Tutors are available for individuals with special needs including reading and comprehension difficulties. You must attend all 3 days to finish the class. The cost is $15 per person.
The course consists of a minimum of ten hours of classroom, homework, and field instruction in the following areas: firearms safety and handling, sportsmanship and ethics, wildlife management and conservation, archery, black powder, wildlife identification, game care, first aid, and survival. After a student has successfully completed the course of instruction and passed the final examination, they are awarded a Certificate of Completion. Parents are encouraged to participate with their children in the course and it’s related activities. A student who is unsafe, or fails to demonstrate good sportsmanship will not be issued a Certificate of Completion.
The Ten Commandments of Firearms Safety:
• Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
My First Hunting Experience
This last deer season a friend and I went hunting for the first time, after having completed our hunter’s safety course and purchasing our license and tags we were excited to go hunt our first deer. Prior to our hunt we had scouted the area, and in doing so spotted deer. We came across a hunter who had harvested a yearling. The yearling was a small forker and so we knew people had successfully harvested deer. We packed up our gear; talked about the areas each of us would be hunting, and went on our way.
Around mid-afternoon our hunting expedition started, after an hour of not seeing anything, I hear some movement on the side of the hill; about a hundred yards in front of me. That’s when I saw them. There were a couple of deer coming out from the trees. At that point I was filled with excitement and adrenaline rushed in. I couldn’t see them clearly because of bushes and brush that were in the way. After what seemed like an eternity, they started taking a few steps forward. I stayed as still as possible, so I would not scare them away. Suddenly, something seemed to frighten them, and they began to turn away. That’s when I raised my rifle, took aim, and shot. I saw one go down, the one I thought was a forker. I walked to where he lay, and upon reaching him, I realized I had shot a doe.
If I had taken the time to really see what I was shooting at, I would have realized that it was two does rather than a forker and a doe. Deep down, I truly thought it was a buck I had shot, but it was not. Thinking about it later, I understood that that happens to a lot of hunters. Still, we as hunters need to know when to pull the trigger and when not to. If I had tried to get a little closer to make sure it was a buck I might had scared it away, but I would have gotten a better look. Later I thought about what the instructor had told us in our Hunter Safety Course, “if you’re not sure what you are shooting at, don’t’ shoot.” Unfortunately, the story does not end there.
After shooting the doe, I made the choice of bringing it back with me instead of leaving it there. That is when my friend and I met up, packed up our gear and called it a day. It was all still sinking in and even though I felt bad, I believe it would be worse leaving the animal there. Once we were at our car, I put some of our gear away in the trunk. We were making our way down the mountain when a ranger saw us and instructed us to pull over. Upon searching the vehicle, he found the rifle in the car and inspected it. He pulled the bolt back and a round flew out to my surprise; I never imagined the rifle was still loaded. I instantly thought, “What the hell was I thinking; I should have checked the rifle.” That negligence along with shooting the doe got me in trouble with the law.
This experience has changed me in a positive way, some of the things I neglected to do were topics taught to me in my Hunter’s Safety Course. The excitement of seeing a deer made me forget the basics of hunting: know what you are shooting, don’t pull the trigger until you are positive, and always check your gun. If I had taken a minute to think about all that I was taught and learned, I would have not put myself in that position. Don't take what you are taught for granted, soak it in and remember it, or you may end up making some bad decisions.
I hope my experience helps all hunters not to make the same choices I made, but most importantly, remember safety first.
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