Martha’s Vineyard basic hunter course open for enrollment

A deer hunter surveys the state forest. - Michael Cummo

The Martha’s Vineyard Rod & Gun Club will host the three-day, state-sanctioned basic hunter education course, beginning Monday, April 9, and continuing the following Saturday and Sunday, April 14 and 15. The April 9 class will go from 6 to 9 pm; the weekend classes will run from 8 am to 5 pm.

The course is sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, and is free of charge. Passing the course is required to obtain a hunting license in the state.

Tisbury Police Officer Jeff Day will be the lead instructor, along with instructors Bret Stearns, director of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) Natural Resources Department; Michael Sellitti, ranger for the tribe; and Edgartown Police Officer Curtis Chandler.

The Rod & Gun Club is providing the location free, and the tribe is donating equipment.

“It’s ideal for ages 10 and up,” Stearns told The Times. “We encourage people, especially from 10 to 17 years old, to come in and get this training done. It’s the right time in their life to do it, and the certification is good for life.”

Stearns said in addition to firearms safety, the course covers an introduction to hunting, firearms regulations, and how and where to pursue specific game in Massachusetts.

No live rounds are fired during the course.

The course typically fills up quickly. “So far we’ve never turned anyone away,” Stearns said. “If a parent is not available to be with a student the whole time, they can contact us and we’ll try to work something out.”

To enroll, aspiring hunters should call the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife at 508-389-7830.