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Bow Hunter Education Classes Held at Cuba and Ellicottville Big Picture Schools

By Ellen Bagley, Physical Education Teacher

In the beginning of October, students began showing interest in hunting and the great outdoors. Conversations about the archery season and the upcoming regular (gun) season were going on and there seemed to be significant interest in both.  As the physical education teacher here at the Big Picture Elm Street Academy in Cuba, I mentioned to a few students that I was also a Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Bow Hunter Education Instructor.  I also stated that I was able to certify students last year in archery education as part of the school day.

A few weeks later I had multiple students signed up and working on the homework for the course.  The certification course was planned for Tuesday, October 30, and Wednesday, October 31, 2018.  The students were then instructed to complete a homework packet, and get a permission slip signed by a parent and their CTE BOCES instructors to attend the two-day program.

That Tuesday morning, we had six students (three from Cuba Big Picture, two from Ellicottville Big Picture and their teacher) attend the first day of bow hunter education at Elm Street Academy in one of the Big Picture classrooms.  The first day consisted of reviewing the homework I gave them, learning about the responsible bow hunter, the unwritten laws or ethics of hunting, conservation, animal identification and laws and regulations.  We also were lucky enough to have a Region 9 Allegany County Environmental Conservation Officer attend and talk about his career including the job description, laws and regulations, as well as answer any questions the students had. 

A student is shown shooting a compound bow.

Students were engaged for five hours on these topics through a variety of hands-on learning and the use of various Hunter Education tools from the DEC.  I also mixed in a number of real-life stories along with the course instruction.

After lunch -- with the weather being so nice -- we travelled to the local greenway trail and soccer fields to complete a mock blood trail, learn about tree stands, and live fire compound bows and a crossbow.

Day two consisted of more teaching in the classroom. We finished reviewing tree stands, their advantages and disadvantages, along with tree stand safety, first aid and preparedness, shooting angles and reviewed for the exam.  The students then took a quick, 40-question multiple choice exam, which all six students passed with flying colors!  I was then able to fill out and sign their certifications, which the students were able to take home.

My hope is that more students will become interested in the outdoors and/or hunting.  I plan to continue offering these classes to students, so I can share these interests with them and they can share these interests with each other.  I am also certified in the regular hunter education classes, which I teach on a regular basis outside of school.

Hopefully, by next year, I will be certified to instruct in trapping education as well.  The area we live in is a great place for outdoor hobbies, and these kinds of pursuits can teach our students so much!

For more information contact me at 585-307-0316 or email me at:

Grouping up to talk about blood trailing.

Artificial blood on the trail.

Walking to find the first blood.

Cocking and loading a crossbow lesson.

A student is shown firing a compound bow.

The group is shown walking along the local greenway trail.