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Newly-minted hunters in West Penn

It was a large class, with parents or guardians accompanying 33 people who would become new hunters. Instruction would last for eight hours, on a gorgeous late summer day, with sun and a luring breeze coming through the wide-open doors at the West Penn Fire Company.

Yet, without exception, all eyes were on the instructors giving the class.

“They want to be here,” said instructor Dave Eckert. “It’s not like school, where they might not be interested in a particular class – they are paying attention because they like learning about hunting.”

Instructor Stephen Soley, West Penn, became a Hunter Safety Instructor because he knew his children would benefit from it. His kids got older; Stephen kept instructing.

“I started out in it to do it for my own kids,” he said. “It’s an important class not only to learn more about hunting skills, but to focus on safety – whether it’s tree stand safety, firearm safety, archery safety, the focus is on all aspects of safety.”

The class attendees learned from verbal instruction and watching videos. Materials for the class are derived from Pittman-Robertson Act funds. The Pittman-Robertson Act, passed in 1937, is now known as the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration. Revenues generated from these excise taxes are apportioned to state wildlife agencies for their conservation efforts, hunter education programs, and operation of archery and shooting ranges

Stephen’s daughter Kaitlyn Soley recently became a junior hunter safety instructor. She’s a student at Commonwealth Connections Academy.

Kaitlyn graduated from her own hunter safety class and took an additional four-hour course to become a junior instructor.

“I love the outdoors, and hunting,” she said. “I like sharing that with other people.”

Why Become a Hunter Safety Instructor

According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, several thousand people volunteer as hunter education instructors in Pennsylvania. You too, can be part of a nationally-recognized program and your involvement can help further refine the program.

Volunteer instructors find they enjoy teaching the class, as they are promoting safe and responsible hunting and furtaking. You’ll be teaching students with an easy-to-use,

standardized curriculum for which all materials are provided. Classes average 10 to 12

hours and may take place over several days.

You can choose your level of commitment. Volunteer instructors should have the ability to give 16 to 20 hours each year. Annual instructor training events and the opportunity to

teach advanced classes, such as Successful Bowhunting and Successful Furtaking are also


With every class you teach, you’ll be making new friends and possibly meeting hunting companions. You’ll get discount offers from outdoor industries on hunting equipment and complementary magazine subscriptions. You’ll also be enhancing your own instructional and communication skills.

The next hunter safety class in the Times News coverage are will be at the New Ringgold Fire Company in October. Register online via the Pennsylvania Game Commission website.

Hunter safety instructors, from left, include Jim Deluca, Stephen Soley, James Deichert, Kaitlyn Soley and Dave Eckert. LISA PRICE/TIMES NEWS
From left, Nathan Andreas and his son Jake, Lehighton, and Jim Cook and his son Keenan, Hometown, learn and listen at Hunter Safety Class, held at West Penn Township Fire Company last week. LISA PRICE/TIMES NEWS