Hunter education courses beginning in August

Published 12:02 am Saturday, July 11, 2015

SAFETY FIRST: Moriah Hixson, left, shoots an air rifle alongside her mother, Vickie, during a hunter education course at Hinds County Community College in 2013.

SAFETY FIRST: Moriah Hixson, left, shoots an air rifle alongside her mother, Vickie, during a hunter education course at Hinds County Community College in 2013.

Hunting season is approaching, and now is the time to register for hunter education courses. In order to become certified, students must be at least 10 years old, attend all classroom hours and pass an exam.

Courses are offered and taught by Mike Richmond at Mahannah Wildlife Management off of U.S. 61 North. Hunter education classes are also free, but unlike in past years students must pre-register online at the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries web site:

Richmond has scheduled classes for Aug. 22, Sept. 19 and Dec. 5.

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“We cover everything from firearm safety, recognizing game and survival,” Richmond said.

One of the objectives of Richmond’s classes is to teach his students how to be a better person and the difference between right and wrong.

“If you’re out in the woods by yourself there’s no referee to throw the penalty flag,” Richmond said. “I hope when they come out of my class, they are ready to make those personal choices with the knowledge to make the right choice.”

Richmond has been hunting since he was 10 years old. He started off hunting deer and became a certified hunting instructor in Mississippi in 1978.

He’s also certified in Louisiana and Arkansas and enjoys being in the woods.

“I’ll go out there and harvest a deer early on in the season and just watch things go on around me,” Richmond said.

Richmond decided to get into hunter safety and instruction in 1971, the year the program started in Mississippi. Richmond was a part of the Optimists Club and the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks came to a meeting asking if anyone wanted to become instructors. They were trying to get more volunteer instructors as demand grew for hunting certifications.

Hunter education certification is required to purchase a hunting license for anyone born on or after Jan 1, 1972.

Richmond enrolled his children in hunter education classes and the same woman who taught him instructed them. She encouraged Richmond to get back to instructing and asked, “Why are you in the class and not teaching it?”

Through a series of word-of-mouth events in Louisiana and trying to get hunter education classes started, Richmond became certified in that state. Since the 1980s he has been doing a minimum of three to four classes a year there, and has taught as many as 10 in a year.

He received his certification in Arkansas after people from that state were traveling to his Louisiana classes. Richmond decided to help them start a local program. He hasn’t been to Arkansas and lets the young guys who he helped organize the classes handle them.

The certification exam consists of 40 questions. A student must answer 70 percent — 27 questions — to pass. Questions cover proper ways to handle a firearm, survival and basic supplies.

“If you listened, it’s multiple choice. If you didn’t, it’s multiple guess,” Richmond said.