LEROY – Close to 100 youngsters attended a two-day hunter’s safety course conducted over the weekend at Pine River High School.

Larry Copley was among the certified DNR instructors. A hunter safety course was conducted at Pine River Middle School on Saturday and Sunday by various certified instructors.

“It’s the biggest class we’ve had,” Copley said. “There’s no age limit because of the new rules with the mentor program. We have kids from all the way up to full adults.”

The course on Saturday covered gun handling safety, ammunition recognition, the difference between cartridges and use of shot gun shells,

Hands-on use of guns and proper weapon carrying, crossing rivers and crossing fences were among the topics set for Sunday.

The DNR notes that there is no requirement in the current state Mentor Youth Hunting Program that a youth participant take a hunter safety course first although they are encouraged to do so.

The DNR reminds youngsters and parents that anyone 10 years of age or older, with under safety certification, can purchase regular hunting licenses. The state also has an apprentice license for anyone 10 years of age and older that has not received hunter safety certification. That means, the DNR notes, that an individual can hunt with an apprentice license for two license years but apprentices between ages 10 to 16 must have an accompanying hunter which could be a parent, guardian or designated individual.

“Doug (Nixon) and I have been doing this and grabbing whoever we can to help us.”

Nixon, a Luther resident, said the courses are arranged by various individuals with no particular structured club or group being in charge.

“It’s all on our own. All hunter safety instructors are volunteers,” he said. “We make no money whatsoever. The school doesn’t charge us for using the gym.”

The youngsters were not just from Pine River, Nixon noted but also from places like Morley, Traverse City, Cadillac, and Lake City.

“It’s the whole surrounding area because there’s not enough instructors (in just one area),“ Copley said.

“We had it at Reed City or two or three years,” Nixon recalled. “We then moved it to Pine River.”