I have been getting quite a few calls with regards to obtaining hunter safety training. If you were born after January 1, 1971 you have to have the Saskatchewan Hunter Safety course offered by the Saskatchewan Association of Firearm Educators.
Like every year, parents have been calling our office to find out when a course is being offered. Normally, courses offered in the fall will not result in obtaining your accreditation so that you can legally purchase a game license. The best time to take the course is in the spring so you can start hunting on Sept. 1. Starting Oct. 1 with a course will not have you pulling a trigger this season if you attend a classroom course. To my knowledge, there is no course being offered this fall or anytime soon here in Weyburn.
There is another option that we can work with that may assist you. The Saskatchewan Association of Firearm Educators offers an online hunter safety course. You have to be 11 years of age before you can take any component of the SAFE program. Simply go to the SAFE site and register to take the online course. The online course includes 14 chapters that have to be completed. At the end of each chapter there is a quiz. The pass mark is 80 percent and you must pass in order to move on. If you fail a chapter exam you can take it again until you pass and move on. Once you complete the online course you will have to travel to Regina to take the final exam and the practical session.
Normally, these are held at the Regina Wildlife Federation building east of Regina by White City. When you take the final exam, you have to achieve a mark of 80 percent to pass. If you fail the exam, you fail the course and have to take a classroom course. You cannot re-do the online component. If you do not have a computer at home you can have a workbook sent to you so that you can work on it at your own pace.
For those people who are over the age of 18, you can write a challenge exam for the federal firearms course. The content on this exam is included in the first eight chapters of the online hunter education course. There is no timeline required for the on-line course. If you want to cram it into a weekend, so be it. The costs are pretty reasonable as well. It costs $50 to take the online version, and $70 to do the home workbook version.
This will be the quickest way for you to obtain the Saskatchewan Hunter Safety Course which will allow you to obtain a Saskatchewan hunting license. It will not provide you with any Federal Firearm licensing. In Saskatchewan, the federal license is not required to purchase a license or even to legally hunt under the Wildlife Act or Regulations. You will not have to worry about a conservation officer asking to see your Possession Acquisition License (PAL), but there is always a chance that you could be stopped and checked by a member of the RCMP. If you did not have a PAL, then you would be in violation. The PAL would be required to purchase any firearms, ammunition, or to borrow a firearm to go hunting.
OK, you are now a first time hunterwhat do you do, and what are some things that you should be aware of? You have to get a license and a habitat certificate. The habitat certificate is a document that all of the licenses are attached to. Some of the licenses available include white tail deer, elk, moose, game bird and bear. You will buy a license and the license sticker will be applied to the habitat certificate. If you are hunting a big game species you will also get some tags that go with the license. Make sure when you get the tags to sign them right away. If checked by an officer you will have to show him the habitat, and the tags. Do not ever separate the tags when you get them as this will make them void. It is imperative that you keep the tags and the license in a place where you can get them.
You don't ever want to forget your tags when you go hunting. If you shoot a deer and do not have tags to affix to the deer, then there will be some trouble.
When you harvest your first white tail you will see three tags. One tag is the meat seal which is attached to the hind tendon or inside the rib cage, a hide seal which is to be attached anywhere on the hide, and finally an antler seal which is attached to the antlers above the burr but below a fork on the antlers. If you harvest a doe, simply attach the antler tag to the ear of the deer. If you want to hunt ducks and geese then you will have to pick up a Migratory Bird Permit from your local post office.
I will give you a bit of advice here as well, especially if you are under the age of 18 and a Saskatchewan resident. Our dept. has a Youth Game License which gives you the habitat certificate, and either sex white tail license and a game bird license. An $80 package for less than $10. . .pretty good deal! . .and a deal is something you don't normally get from the government! If you are between the ages of 12 - 15 and have parents who don't hunt you can go out as long as you are supervised by an adult. If you are 16 years of age you can go out on your own.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your local conservation officer and we will do our best to help you out. Until next week... keep your rod tip up!