By: Bonnie Davis Guy
The second weeks of March and August each year means its time for the TWRA Hunter Safety Course to be taught here in Johnson County. For the last thirty years, brothers Terry and Jerry Jordan have been the instructors for this course for both the young and young at heart would-be hunters. Also involved in the course is Bob Hardee, the TWRA Wild Life Officer, and Ron Overbey, TWRA Hunter Safety Coordinator. Local volunteers assisting with the course include Ed Townsend, Harold Shoemaker, Ed Hoak, Ben Masters, and Thomas Boyd. Mary and Judy Jordan help with the paperwork involved in the course and Lou Ann Hoak volunteers by supplying refreshments on the last day of the course. Providing this course to the future hunters of Johnson County free of any charge is a true labor of love.
Anyone born after 1969 and wishing to hunt with a TN license is required by law to pass the TWRA Hunter Safety Course. This is a week-long course with a mandatory 10 hours of instruction and a field experience test day. Students are taught straight from the TWRA hunter safety manual, stressing the 10 commandments of hunter safety. These rules are as follows: (1) Treat every firearm as if it were loaded. (2) Control the direction of your firearms muzzle. (3) Be sure of your target and what is beyond it. (4) Be sure the barrel and action are clear of any obstructions. (5) Unload firearms when not in use. (6) Never point a firearm at anything you do not intend to shoot. (7) Never climb a fence or tree, or jump a ditch or log with a loaded firearm. (8) Never shoot a bullet at a flat, hard surface or water. (9) Store firearms and ammunition separately. (10) Avoid alcoholic beverages or other mood altering drugs before or while shooting.
Both Terry and Jerry stressed that they strive to teach responsibility, ethics, and safety, not actually how to hunt an animal. This course is more about how to safely discharge a firearm than the accuracy with which you shoot. In fact, on test day during the skeet-shooting portion of the day, they are primarily looking at how safely the hunter handles his weapon, not how many skeet are hit. A major piece of advice the instructors give to new hunters is to be your own game warden. Safe and ethical hunting is the only way to be a truly responsible hunter. Taking an animal out of season, spot lighting, road hunting and using the incorrect weapon designated for the particular season are all examples of unethical hunting.
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