What types of training do Maine hunters get?

How hunters train

GRAY, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – When Karen Wrentzel was shot to death Saturday morning on her property in Hebron, it was the state's first hunting fatality in years.

Wardens are not saying what the exact circumstances were that led to Wrentzel's death.

But it has people questioning hunter safety methods.

Anyone who wants a hunting license here in Maine has to successfully complete a hunter safety course.

One of the places you can take that course is Howell's Gun Shop in Gray.

NEWS CENTER went there to find out what that training entails.

Instructors like Tom Ventresca say Maine's system to train and license hunters is good and it works.

The course at Howell's is 15 hours long.

Kids as young as 10 years-old can take hunting courses in Maine but are also allowed to hunt with an adult 18 years or older without a license.

Once you're 16 you can take the course and hunt on your own.

“It’s been a very very safe stretch of hunting up to this point,”  Cpl. John McDonald of the Maine Warden Service told NEWS CENTER, the day Wrentzel died.

“The last four years we've had no fatalities in Maine related to hunting and it's a sport enjoyed by thousands of people so when something like this happens is a bit of a shock.”

State data backs up what wardens, hunters, and instructors told us about hunting.

Maine had 219,000 registered hunters in 2016 alone but again, not a single fatality in years.

A big part of keeping Maine hunting safe -- instructors say -- is training advice like this.

“When you're hunting and you see, we'll use a deer, you see a deer in the woods, as you draw up your rifle, you always want to look beyond your target,” said Ventresca. “If I'm looking at another deer and you see another person there and they're wearing ‘hunter orange’, you know you don't have a clean shot because once you shoot a gun at a deer and it goes through the deer, you don't know what the bullet's going to do after that.”

Target identification is just one topic hunters learn about.

Others parts of the course focus on how to use different firearms, safety, and first aid.

Hunters are also told about clothing rules because, by law, they have to be visible.

“All hunters are required to wear 180 square inches of orange for a vest or a jacket,” said Ventresca. “They must have some type of hat that can be seen 360 degrees. That's a legal requirement.”

Failure to follow the rules can get you a fine. 

But Ventresca told us other hunters will often call each other out for not doing the right thing anyway.

“We have to police ourselves because we don't have many wardens to do it,” he said.

The risks of not following the rules Ventresca added are simply too high.

Wardens have still not released what was or wasn't done right in Karen Wrentzel's case.

They’ve told NEWS CENTER in previous interviews, their investigation could take weeks. 

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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