Gift Of A Gun Carries Responsibility For Gift Giver

Published 3:17 pm Tuesday, December 24, 2013

FRED BONNER | CONTRIBUTED THE GIFT OF SAFETY: This youngster is firing the first shots from a new shotgun that was a Christmas gift. An experienced hunter and safe gun owner is close by to assist and instruct the youngster in the rules of safe gun handling.

THE GIFT OF SAFETY: This youngster is firing the first shots from a new shotgun that was a Christmas gift. An experienced hunter and safe gun owner is close by to assist and instruct the youngster in the rules of safe gun handling.


If this Christmas has been like many others in past years, there will be a lot of new gun owners out there who are anxious to try out the new gun and take it out to harvest some game. Luckily, in the vast majority of these cases either the parent or guardian of the receiver will be on hand to mentor this new outdoor sportsman in safe gun handling and hunting ethics. Regrettably, there will be a few of these new gun owners who are left on their own to take to the woods and waters with a gun that they aren’t familiar with.

Ultimately the person (or persons) who gave the gift is the one who should take the responsibility to see to it that the novice receives proper training with guns before the new gun owner is turned loose in the woods with a weapon that can and will kill something or someone. If the giver can’t take on this responsibility themselves, then they should see to it that that a responsible mentor is found and engaged to train the novice.

As with every state wildlife management agency that I know of, the State of North Carolina has on hand very competent hunter safety instructors who have programs are paid for with money that our state’s outdoorsmen paid through our taxes (read that hunting and fishing license fees and the federal taxes we pay on our outdoor equipment). A vital part of this state agency’s responsibility is to see to it that every hunter who is licensed in North Carolina has been well trained.

Over the years since this mandatory hunter safety program has been in effect hunting accidents have dropped dramatically. Today the sport of hunting is considered to be one of the safest sports in America.

Since hunters are not required to have a license until they reach the age of 16, there have been concerns about younger hunters being legal. The new Hunting Heritage Apprentice Permit has solved this problem.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission began issuing Hunting Heritage Apprentice Permits on July 1, 2013 allowing new hunters to go afield under the guidance of licensed adult mentors before taking a required hunter education course.

“Wildlife agencies must recognize the importance of increasing hunting opportunities to maintain relevancy of our conservation heritage,” said Travis Casper, the state Hunter Education Program coordinator. “Apprentice permits have been successfully implemented in other states without a significant increase in hunting-related injuries. We must be more efficient and effective in getting more people engaged in safe and enjoyable experiences with our wildlife resources, to foster support for all conservation issues.”

The Hunter Heritage Apprentice Permit allows someone to purchase a hunting license without first having completed hunter education, then go hunting, as long as the apprentice is within sight and hearing distance of an accompanying licensed hunter who is at least 18 years old and who has completed a hunter education course.

The Hunting Heritage Apprentice Permit also allows someone to hunt when accompanied by an adult landholder or landholder’s spouse who is exempt from the hunting license requirement as long as the individual is hunting on the landholder’s property.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s Home From The Hunt™ campaign reminds anyone planning a hunting trip during the holiday season to make safety the top priority.

“Thanksgiving and Christmas are traditional times for family and friends to go hunting,” said Travis Casper, the state hunter education coordinator with the Wildlife Commission. “In the excitement of a holiday hunt, don’t overlook the safety aspects. Make it a part of your planning. Stress the importance of everyone being careful.”

Casper advised:

  • Go back to basics — review hunter education training and equipment instructions.
  • Know the rules — read all applicable regulations before going afield.
  • Inspect all equipment — repair or replace equipment, especially tree stands, before use.

“We recommend a full-body safety harness anytime you use a tree stand,” Casper said. “Maintain three points of contact when climbing up and down, and never carry anything as you climb.”

When hunting with a firearm, Casper advised:

  • Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
  • Be certain of your target and what is beyond.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

Blaze orange that is visible from all sides must be worn when hunting bear, feral hogs, deer, rabbit, squirrel, grouse, pheasant or quail with a firearm. Hunters are also required to wear blaze orange while hunting with a bow on Sunday during the muzzleloader or gun season.

Have a wonderful and safe 2015 hunting, fishing and boating year in North Carolina.