Department of Environmental Conservation

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Sportsman Education at Camp

Colby, DeBruce, Rushford, and Pack Forest

Youth attending DEC summer camps have the opportunity to participate in a Sportsman Education Class during his/her stay. Each week at camp offers either a Hunter Education or Bowhunter Education class. Approximately 30 percent of the campers that attend DEC camps participate in Sportsman Education programming each summer. Trained instructors certified by the Department of Environmental Conservation teach safe and responsible outdoors practices and the important role of hunters in conservation. When available Environmental Conservation Officers also assist with the class instruction. These classes are extremely safe for the campers to participate in and when class in not in session the firearms and ammo are locked and not accessible to campers. At no time is a camper unsupervised during a Sportsman Education Class.

Campers participating in a Hunter Education Class

Hunter Education

The Hunter Education class is required for all hunting licenses, including bow and arrow. It covers basic firearms handling and outdoor skills, plus hunting techniques. The minimum age for this course is 11 years old. The minimum age for a hunting license is 12 years old. Campers must complete the home study class before they arrive at camp. DEC will mail a manual and worksheet to the campers who have enrolled in the course. The materials will be mailed in May.

Bowhunter Education

Archery at Pack Forest

This class is required to hunt deer and bear with bow and arrow. Bowhunter Education teaches the aspects of bowhunting that make it a special challenge and helps each camper become a more successful hunter. The minimum age for course is 11 years old, however children must be 12 years old to hunt big game with bow and arrow. Campers must complete a home study portion before they arrive at camp, this can be done with a workbook and work sheet that DEC mails to the child in May.

Campers may take the Bowhunter Education class before they take the Hunter Education class, however they cannot get their license until the Hunter Education class has been successfully completed.

In addition to the Sportsman Education class offered at camp, campers may also participate in an optional archery lesson during his/her stay at camp. Campers may bring their own bows to camp if they wish to use them during the archery lesson. Campers are prohibited from bringing any firearms to camp.

Trapper Education

Trapping provides important benefits to New Yorkers including: the control of nuisance damage, economic benefits to trappers and people involved in the fur industry, and recreation to trappers. The class will teach the campers trapping safety and techniques; techniques to avoid catching non-targeted species; how to prepare pelts to produce marketable furs; and the laws and regulations of trapping. There is no are requirement for this class. Campers must complete a home study manual prior to attending camp. DEC will mail the camper the materials in May. While at camp they will attend a field session led by an instructor.

Shooting sports lesson at camp

Optional Program at Pack Forest

Shooting Sports

Shooting Sports in an optional activity offered at Pack Forest only. Participants must have a signed permission slip in order to participate. The class is taught by Environmental Conservation Officers when available. Camp staff are available at all activities to supervise campers when outside speakers are present. Campers do not need to complete a Sportsman Education class to participate, but many have. This class gives campers more exposure to firearm safety and at the same time is a great introduction for those campers who may not be as familiar or comfortable with firearms. The class starts by going over the safety and handling of shotguns. After the safety talk, each of the campers shoots at three clay targets with a shotgun. The campers are then taught about the safety and handling of the .22 rifles.

Camper showing off her target

After this instruction the campers are allowed to try their hand at shooting at a paper target with a rifle. If time allows the Conservation Officers demonstrate the handling and operation of other types of firearms such as muzzleloaders and pistols. After shooting has concluded for the day, the instructors then demonstrate how to clean and care for the firearms. The class is run once each week and the class average is 25 participants. Shooting Sports is a popular activity among Pack Forest campers and many report it being one of their favorite activities.

Camps Sportsman Education Schedule for 2017
Week Colby DeBruce Rushford Pack Forest
1 Bowhunter Education Hunter Education Hunter Education Hunter Education
2 Hunter Education Hunter Education Hunter Education Bowhunter Education
3 Trapper Education Bowhunter Education Bowhunter Education Outdoor Skills Adventure Week
4 Bowhunter Education Hunter Education Hunter Education Hunter Education
5 Bowhunter Education Bowhunter Education Bowhunter Education Hunter Education
6 Hunter Education Hunter Education Hunter Education Bowhunter Education
7 Hunter Education Trapper Education Trapper Education Bowhunter Education
8 Trapper Education