Illinois Department of Natural Resources
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Jeff Hopkins, 217-782-8408
Sign up for fall safety and education classes
ILLINOIS HUNTERS AND TRAPPERS ARE TAUGHT TO MEASURE SUCCESS
THROUGH SAFETY AND RESPONSIBILITY
SPRINGFIELD, ILL. — Illinois hunters and trappers are better educated
and safer than ever before, according to the Illinois Department
of Natural Resources.
During the past 25 years, more than 500,000 hunters and trappers
have participated in the mandatory Illinois hunter safety and trapper
education courses. The courses teach safety and help students develop
respect for wildlife and the environment.
Hunters and trappers also are safer because conservation organizations
stress safety and responsibility to their members, who pass those
attitudes to others. Legal requirements, such as wearing blaze hunter
orange during certain seasons, also have a big impact.
“Our first and last concerns – and all thoughts in the middle –
focus on safety, responsibility, ethics and knowledge,” says Jeff
Hopkins, safety education administrator at Illinois DNR.
A better definition of success
Success is more than harvesting an animal, according to Hopkins.
That distinction is important to relay to young hunters and trappers.
“True success involves being safe, making good decisions, enjoying
the friendship of those with you, and just being outdoors,” Hopkins
“Safety is a product of knowledge, experience and attitude,” says
Hopkins. “Our mission is to deliver these products -- to make safety
a primary focus in people’s minds before anything else.”
Statistically, hunting is safer than driving a passenger car, bicycling
or water skiing. In 2003, 311,700 licensed Illinois hunters and
trappers spent more than 5.6 million days afield. Fifteen hunters
were injured; five were due to falls from tree stands. The one fatality
was firearms related. “One injury is too much,” says Hopkins. “But
hunting and shooting are safe activities when pursued properly.”
Anyone born after January 1, 1980, must pass an Illinois hunter
safety course, and all first-time trappers under 18 must pass mandatory
trapper education course before they can buy their respective licenses.
Adults or guardians must accompany children under the age of 10.
Education instruction and course materials are provided free of
The Illinois hunter safety course consists of a minimum of 10 hours
of instruction to cover hunter responsibility, wildlife conservation
and identification, firearms and ammunition, field safety, wildlife
management, First Aid, archery and muzzleloading skills.
The Illinois trapper education course includes of a minimum of
eight hours of instruction. It focuses on applicable laws but also
covers equipment, trap and pelt preparation, wildlife management
and methods of capturing animals humanely.
Both courses involve classroom and field instruction, and stress
state regulations and respect for public and private property. Participants
are assessed on mental attitude, physical level and must pass a
final exam before receiving certification. Certified volunteer instructors
and local conservation police officers teach courses according to
national guidelines and state standards.
“Mere attendance and written test will not guarantee passing a
course,” Hopkins emphasizes. “Instructors measure mental and physical
acuity, attitude and the ability to demonstrate and recognize safe
procedures before certifying students.”
Each year, trained volunteers offer about 470 hunter safety and
20 trapper education courses around the state. More than 22,000
people graduate from these courses annually. These programs would
not be possible without volunteer instructors who generously contribute
their time and knowledge to up-and-coming generations.
Two instructors recently won state and national distinction for
their outreach and education efforts.
Ron Boesser, of Mattoon, recently was named an Illinois DNR Volunteer
of the Year for more than 19 years of combined efforts as a certified
education instructor for hunting, trapping and boating safety. He
has invested his own money in classroom equipment and gear; he recruits
and trains new instructors.
Irv Schirmer, of Marengo, won the Fur Takers of America’s prestigious
American Heritage Award. The national honor is given annually to
an outstanding individual for promoting trapping as an important
wildlife conservation activity. Schirmer was credited for his exemplary
work as a trapper education instructor.
“Some of the most dedicated people you will meet are volunteer
hunter and trapper instructors,” says Hopkins. “These folks know
that the future of these activities rests with youth. Our young
folks are charged with practicing these activities properly, as
well as showing Illinois citizens that hunters and trappers care
about wildlife and are good stewards of wildlife and natural resources.”
To take a course or be an instructor
To sign up for a fall or winter safety education course, you can
contact the Illinois DNR at 217-557-9206, 800-832-2599 or go online
Visit the Fur Hunting and Trapping in Illinois website
For more information about trapping, visit the Illinois DNR’s new
website, “Fur Hunting and Trapping in Illinois,” at dnr.state.il.us/orc/wildlife,
or contact the Illinois DNR at 217-782-6384.