Hunters learn safety tips to prevent accidents - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Hunters learn safety tips to prevent accidents

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SWISHER (KWWL) -

Warmer weather means many Eastern Iowans are heading outside. For some, April brings spring hunting. By following the right tips, hunters can stay safe while getting a chance to spend time with family in the great outdoors.

For the Bersts, hunting is a family tradition.

"I like to do it for fun," said Matt Berst, a 14-year-old from Cedar Rapids. "Just for free time and stuff."

"I got my first buck last year," said Eric Berst, a 13-year -old from Bettendorf. "It was a lot of fun."

"It's just a great way to be outside, be together," said their father and uncle, Martin Berst, of Cedar Rapids.

The siblings and cousins want to be able to hunt on their own. That's why they spent the weekend at hunter education class in Johnson County, learning the skills they need to get their hunting licenses.

"It's really nice to have and it's also good to go through a course like this so it's safe," said Kyle Berst, a 15-year-old from Bettendorf.

Thirty years ago the Iowa Department of Natural Resources made hunter education class a mandatory requirement to get a license. The DNR says it's led to a steep decline in accidents.

In the 1960s hunting deaths averaged 13 a year. Last year there were none and just 13 injuries, which instructors say could have likely been avoided by going back to the basics.

"Make sure their hand, that finger is off that trigger, that safety is always on," said Doug Thompson, Head Instructor. "Those are the typical things that cause accidents in the field."

The courses cover a wide range of topics including safe weapon handling and shoot, don't shoot training.

"Telling them how to be great stewards of the land, conservationists, respect animals that you're hunting and respect the land that you're on," said Martin.

The teens, who've been hunting before, say they learned many valuable lessons.

"You always need to be very safe with your gun and where it's pointing," said Eric.

Now that they've completed 11 hours of coursework, the kids are ready to start hunting on their own.

Anyone 11 or older can take hunter education class. However, licenses will not be issued until a person reaches his or her 12th birthday.

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