Course offers opportunity to learn about hunting safety

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published June 23, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated June 21, 2013 at 11:41 a.m.
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James K. Joslin

Jake Scrape shows how to use a safety harness while bowhunting from a treestand. Such safe-hunting skills will be covered during the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission hunter education course slated for Saturday at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville.

— With summer just beginning, hunting might be in the back of some people’s minds, but for those who have hunting on their minds at all times, hunter education courses are being offered in the Three Rivers Edition coverage area this summer.

Mary Zirkle of Batesville, who will teach a course at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, said this is one of many hunter education courses being offered by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission this summer in the Three Rivers area.

“I’ve been doing this since 2000,” Zirkle said. “UACCB and I sat down last fall, and we set up four classes to do, one in each quarter.”

Joe Huggins, Hunter Education Program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, said although hunter education programs are offered in the summer, a lot of people want to take boating education courses in the summer.

“The hunters education [enrollment] will pick up around August,” Huggins said.

Though there aren’t any boating education courses in the Three Rivers area, courses are offered in surrounding areas. A boater education course is slated for 5:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday at Cornerstone Bible Fellowship Church, 7351 Warden Road in Sherwood. Registration is required and can be done so by calling (501) 835-0860. Another course will be offered from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday in England at the England Fitness Center, 107 Valley View Drive. More information is available at (501) 842-1016. Plus, an additional course will be offered from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 13 at the Lake Dardanelle State Park Visitors Center, 100 State Park Drive in Russellville. Registration information is available at (479) 967-7577.

Zirkle said the hunter education classes are usually a success, and she already has almost 30 people signed up for her class this summer, and she can have as many as 200 students at UACCB.

“I always start my class out with an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) safety video,” Zirkle said. “There are so many accidents or deaths on ATVs by unqualified riders.”

The course in the summer allows children who are normally in school all day to get ready for hunting season early, Zirkle said.

“I could do the class in three nights, but it’s a one-day class,” Zirkle said. “It’s simpler, more effective, and it may be an all day affair, but it’s better.”

Zirkle said she teaches her class with the assistance of manuals and videos.

With the one-day class, Zirkle said, her students don’t have time to forget what they are learning.

“My classes are always free,” Zirkle said. “I have three other instructors that I bring in, but I do the organizing, and I’m the main instructor.”

The all-day affair allows students to go home after the class and not have to study and review in preparation for the test because they’ve already taken it, Zirkle said.

Zirkle said she takes time to review the material with the students before they take the test.

“I’ve never had a failure — yet,” Zirkle said.

She said she wants to keep teaching hunter education as long as she can.

“If I don’t, who is?” Zirkle said.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or

Online News Editor Lisa Burnett can be reached at

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