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Texas Safe Online Hunter - Part One
Wednesday, January 6, 2010 • Posted January 6, 2010

According to the official Texas Parks & Wildlife Department website: "Every hunter (including out-of-state hunters) born on or after Sept. 2, 1971, must successfully complete a Hunter Education Training Course." I have no idea why it doesn’t say ‘born after Sept. 1, 1971,’ which would mean the same thing. I guess, TPWD being a large bureaucracy, they adhere to the Unwritten Rule for Large Bureaucracies Writing Rules and Regulations, which states, in Chapter 1144, paragraph 329, subsection 9,273c: "Never use a few words when many words will suffice." So there you go.

Anyway, I was born a good little while before 1 Sept. 1971, and even longer before 2 Sept. 1971. So I’ve been grandfathered on the hunter education thing in Texas, and have never been required to take the class. And since I adhere to Hemphill’s Unwritten Rule for Doing Stuff, which states, somewhere in there: "Never do anything unless you have to, and then put it off as long as possible, and then put it off a little longer," I have never taken a Hunter Education Training Course.

But if I want to buy a hunting license in any other state in the country, I have it on reliable authority that I will be shown the hatch right away unless I can produce proof, in the form of my home state’s Hunter Education Training Graduate’s Wallet-Sized ID Card (suitable for framing and/or lamination) that I can reasonably be expected to go forth upon the land carrying a deadly firearm without too much risk of shooting myself or someone else and causing serious bodily harm and/or death.

Since I have heretofore hunted only in Texas, this has not been an issue. But since I plan to travel to New Mexico pretty soon to serenade the resident coyotes with my trusty Johnny Stewart game caller, and maybe reduce the New Mexican coyote population somewhat, I will need a New Mexican hunting license. So I decided to finally take the Texas Hunter Education Course.

The problem was that the course is not available in my area just anytime. Our game warden usually teaches it sometime before the hunting season starts every year, but that was going to be about eight months too late for me. So I emailed my friend, Steve Lightfoot, who works at TPWD and therefore can be reasonably expected to know how to solve this kind of problem.

Steve told me to take the online course, which sounded fine. I didn’t even know there was an online course, but there is. Unfortunately, Steve also informed me that after passing the online course I would have to attend, in person, a Field Day Course before I would have satisfactorily completed the state’s requirements for my card. Fortunately, Field Day Courses are offered somewhere in Texas just about every weekend. Unfortunately, the nearest one to me, being offered anytime soon, was in Austin

But I took the online course, and even managed to talk Nicholas Dyer, who is 14 and a friend of my son, Leret, to take it, so we could go to the Field Day thing together. Nick needed to take the class anyway, and I didn’t want to have to go to Austin all by myself.

The online course was actually a lot more trouble than I thought it would be. I had to read pages and pages of text, which hurts my head, especially when I fall asleep and bang my face onto my desk. And then I had to take a test that included all kinds of questions that have nothing to do with hunting or gun safety, such as: If three hunters are walking single file down a trail, what is the best position for the middle hunter to carry his Remington .243?

Well, OK, the questions had something to do with hunting. But still, they were vague. The example above, for example, didn’t mention anything about whether the hunters were in bear country. If so, the middle hunter might want to carry his rifle aimed at the hunter in front of him, so as to have a ready source of bait handy if a bear came along.

Even with the vague questions, I managed to pass the online test, and was issued a certificate, once I had entered my credit card number and been charged a suitable chunk of legal tender. The certificate, I was informed, would allow me to attend a Field Day Course, so I could get my card. Hallelujah.

Nick also passed the online course, so we set a date when we could go to Austin and do the Field Day thing. Unfortunately I’m out of space here, so I’ll have to make up something about the Field Day next time, unless some real outdoor news happens to occur somewhere in my office, and I decide to write about that.

I just hope, if some outdoor news happens in my office, that when it does I’m carrying my Remington .243 in the proper position . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist whose sons all passed the Texas Hunter Education Training Course before he did. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or jeep@verizon.net

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