Last Saturday I attended a full-day bowhunter education course that was administered by the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game. Now I’ve had a bow in my hands for 27 of my 44 years on this earth; with that much experience what do I need with a bowhunter education course?
The primary answer boils down to this: Thus far in my bowhunting career I have hunted in only three states – Michigan, Massachusetts and Colorado. None of these states require a dedicated bowhunter education course in order to obtain an archery hunting license. By contrast, any person who wishes to bow hunt in the following states is required to have a bowhunter education certificate: Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont. Additionally, the Canadian Provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec have similar requirements.
The course I attended was the International Bowhunter Education Program. This curriculum is recognized in all 50 states, 10 Canadian provinces, 3 Northwest Territories, Mexico and 13 additional foreign countries. The class was administered by volunteer instructors from the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, with primary points of emphasis as follows:
- Wildlife conservation
- Safe and responsible bowhunting techniques
- Equipment knowledge and maintenance
- Proper shot placement and game recovery techniques
- Outdoor preparedness
Despite entering the class with mixed expectations, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It’s always nice to have an opportunity to gather with people who share a passion for the outdoors, and from my perspective it’s even better when it’s focused on archery and bowhunting. The only piece of anxiety was the test at the end of the day; I can’t remember the last time I actually had to take a test! I passed with flying colors and I’ll receive my certification card in about two weeks. After that I’ll begin wondering when and where I’ll plan a hunt with my newly-expanded bowhunting options. Will it be whitetail deer in upstate New York? Maybe black bear in New Brunswick? Perhaps moose in New Hampshire or Maine? How about all of the above?!?!?!