It can be difficult to quantify the positive effect a public program has, but when it comes to the Kansas Hunter Education program, there’s no denying the program is not only working, but exceeding expectations. The 2018 Kansas hunting season has proved the safest one yet – with zero fatalities and a record-low of just four reported firearm-related incidents.
“It has been years of hard work and dedicated services that has brought us to this point,” says Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) Hunter Education Program coordinator Kent Barrett. “Having said that, we also know that next year will bring us a whole new set of circumstances that will test us once again.”
Of the four incidents reported in 2018, two were the result of hunters swinging on game; one was attributed to poor firearm handling; and one was the result of the unsafe use of a decoy. Thankfully, none of the reported incidents were fatal.
Though no firearms were involved, Hunter Education staff keep record of treestand-related incidents, as well. Two were reported for 2018, and in both cases the hunters were not wearing fall arrest systems. Neither incident proved fatal.
Kansas Hunter Education staff attribute these record-breaking low numbers to one thing: the program’s more than 1,400 volunteer hunter education instructors who share with students safe firearm handling practices, ethics, wildlife regulations and conservation principles.
According to Barrett, volunteer instructors meet with, teach, and certify approximately 9,000 students per year.
While staff and volunteers would ideally like to see the number of incidents dropped to zero, current reports remain a stark contrast to statistics from 50 years ago when seven lives were lost in a year, two years in a row.
Hunting remains one of the safest outdoor activities in Kansas, but everyone must do their part to keep it that way. As any Kansas Hunter Education instructor will tell you, the best piece of equipment a hunter can have afield is right between his or her ears.
To find a Hunter Education class near you, visit ksoutdoors.com/Services/Education/Hunter.