By Sydni Hall
Smoky Mountain High School is bringing back a hunter safety course after an eight-year hiatus.
Blake Fox, Smoky Mountain’s agriculture teacher, will teach the course, something he has done since 2004. He taught the course in a variety of school systems before joining Jackson County Schools in July.
He received his agriculture education and extension education degree from N.C State. While there he also became a certified hunter safety instructor. After college, he volunteered to teach hunter safety for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
An avid hunter for a majority of his life, Fox has a strong passion for teaching hunter safety to hunters of all ages, he said.
“I am excited to spread my knowledge about the outdoors and hunting to the students,” he said. “I want to be able to teach them not only about hunter safety, but about firearm safety.”
The goal is to teach students proper hunting skills and firearm safety.
“Besides the basic knowledge of hunting skills and firearm safety, I want students to learn that firearms are not as scary as they seem,” he said. “When handled properly, treated properly and given the respect hat they deserve, they’re very safe. Even when unloaded, treat every firearm as if it were loaded.”
Students can use their newly acquired hunter safety skills in a hands-on experience at the Youth Hunter Education Skills Tournament. The tournament consists of four elements – shooting with a .22 rifle, skeet shooting, archery and the orienteering element.
Fox plans on taking a group of students to compete in the district tournament on March 21 in Columbus.
He wants to teach more hunter safety classes for students and the public. One of his goals is to teach a course for women interested in firearm safety.
“I want to do everything I can to teach people how to be as safe as possible so they can return home to their families,” Fox said.
The course is required to get a hunting license in North Carolina, and will be beneficial to anyone interested in hunting. The course will be available to students starting the week of Feb. 24 during school hours. Courses will be available to the public throughout the week during the evening hours, but a date has yet to be determined.
To find the schedule of hunter safety courses offered, visit www.ncwildlife.org.