As you know if you were bored enough last week to read this column, I recently availed myself of the opportunity to take the online Texas Hunter Education Training and Culinary Arts Course, offered by our friends at the Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept. Although it was more expensive than the regular course, the online version was at least had the virtue of being less convenient.
The reason I took the course was because, while I don’t need it to hunt in Texas, I plan to hunt in New Mexico pretty soon, and I was under the impression I needed to have taken a hunter safety course to get a license there. That’s what I was told, anyway.
And then, after last week’s column came out, I got an email from reader Rick Lum who is, according to his email, a ‘full blooded Texan.’ And Rick says he hunted New Mexican mule deer a few weeks ago, and was not required to show proof of a hunter ed course to get his license. Which means I wasted my time and money on the course I took. It does not mean, however, that you won’t have to put up with another column about it this week.
Nicholas Dyer and I managed to pass the online part of the course, but we still had to pass the Field Day part. So we reserved a couple of spots in a class in Austin on a recent Saturday. Unfortunately the class started at eight o’clock. In the morning. And since Austin is two hours away from Mason, that meant we had to leave home very early. Before breakfast, even. So the day started inauspiciously.
Nick’s dad, Chris, went with us, and my son, Leret, went along for the ride. We got to Austin OK, and managed to find the place where the class was being held. At that point I got out my papers containing Information I Needed To Know, and found a list of items Nick and I were supposed to have brought with us. The list included paper and pencils. We had not brought paper and pencils, of course. I wish they’d tell you these things ahead of time.
Fortunately there was a motel nearby so we went over there and I asked the ladies at the desk if they had a couple of notepads I could have. They fixed me up, and we scrounged a couple of pens from under the seats of our vehicle. We got back to the classroom just before eight. We did not, it should be noted, use our paper and pens during the course of the course. But we had them. Because we needed them.
Our instructor, a friendly sort named Sean Hensley, was a fairly youngish fellow wearing the tallest lace-up boots I’ve ever seen. There were about thirty people in the class, and Sean handed out a bunch of forms to everyone to fill out. Mostly these forms consisted of those computer read things, where you print your name, address, social insecurity number, etc. in little squares, and then fill in the corresponding circles underneath. In order to be a safe hunter in Texas it is evidently necessary to satisfactorily fill in circles with a pencil. Sean provided the pencils.
Once we had that done the class proper started. Sean started asking questions, which we answered pretty much incorrectly. But then, there was really no correct answer for some of the questions.
For example, one question Sean asked was, "Say you go by your brother-in-law’s house, and he has a dead deer in the back of his pickup. He’s been laid off from his job, and you know the family is having a hard time paying the bills, and they need the meat. It’s a week before the deer season starts. What would you do?"
Well, that’s a pretty stupid question. The first guy Sean asked said, "I’d turn him in." But he was lying. He would not turn his brother-in-law in, because you don’t do that. Another fellow said he would talk to his brother-in-law and try to convince him to turn himself in. Right. A class full of liars. I’d have failed the bunch right there.
No one gave the right answer, which is that you should whack your brother-in-law in the back of the head and tell him to get the deer in the shed out back before someone sees it. Legally, yes, you should turn him in. Realistically – not gonna happen.
I asked Sean if this brother-in-law was my wife’s brother or my sister’s husband, since that would make a big difference. He didn’t know.
Sean asked a lot of other questions, some equally silly, and then we all took the written test. Then we went outside and walked around in a damp, wooded area looking at animal shaped archery targets, so Sean would have some justification for wearing the tall boots. Then he got out some BB guns and we all shot them at some paper targets, and we were done.
All told, Nick and I spent probably ten hours apiece getting our safe hunter cards, and spent more than twice what it normally costs. But then, if we’d taken the class in Mason we wouldn’t have gotten to go to Cabela’s afterward.
I saw my brother-in-law in Cabela’s, buying a new rifle. And, no, I am not going to tell his wife . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist who only has one brother-in-law, and doesn’t want to make him mad. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org