As darkness fell on a mid-October evening in eastern Idaho, a hunter saw movement below him in a small clearing. Thinking it was a deer, he fired. The 12-gauge slug hit another hunter in the chest. The hunter, who survived, was the victim of the most common cause of hunting accidents - mistaken for a game animal.
Incidents like this became a growing concern in the national hunting community in the 1940's. States and organizations, such as the National Rifle Association, began focusing on hunter safety education to address the problem of hunting accidents. In 1949, New York enacted the first mandatory hunter education program in the country.
In 1954, Idaho Fish and Game created a hunter safety training program, which was voluntary for sportsmen. In 1979, Idaho joined the ranks of states making hunter education mandatory for segments of its hunters, mostly young hunters just starting their lifelong outdoor adventures. The new law required that before buying a hunting license, anyone born on or after January 1, 1975, must attend and pass a course or show proof they have held a hunting license from another state.
To read more about Idaho's hunter education program and other 75th Anniversary Celebration stories, visit the Fish and Game website at www.fishandgame.idaho.gov.