News | Nov. 4, 2015

Safety first, shoot second

By Staff Sgt. John D. Strong II 633rd ABW/PA

"You have to think about one shot. One shot is what it's all about. A deer's gotta be taken with one shot." - Michael, "The Deer Hunter."

As the seasons pass, new hunters don camouflage and blaze orange clothing seeking new game on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia's hunting grounds, while the leaves and temperatures change, JBLE's hunting coordinator's primary focus remains the same-- safety first.

According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the major requirement to obtain a Virginia hunting license is completion of a Hunter Education Course. Since hunter education became mandatory for children between the ages of 12 and15 years old and first-time Virginia hunters in 1988, there has been a 25 percent reduction in hunting-related shooting incidents. These courses are designed to teach hunting safety, principles of conservation, and sportsmanship.

JBLE requires proof of Hunter Education Course requirements before allowing an individual to purchase a permit to hunt on the installations. The safety course is offered both on- and off-base, as well as online at the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website. Safety courses completed on another base or state will satisfy the requirement.

The courses are composed of two sections: self-study, where each student is required to study course material prior to section two: classroom, where students focus on safety and ethics. Most importantly, the courses are designed to educate the hunters on everything from start to finish as well as for any obstacles that may come their way.

"We are most concerned with safe hunting on Fort Eustis. From the checkout process, throughout the hunt, we have to maintain safe accountability of all our hunters," said Del Clark, Fort Eustis Hunt Council president "We go to great lengths to ensure our hunting community is properly educated about the numerous different peculiarities with hunting on a military installation vice public/private lands, especially as it pertains to what equipment you can use, where you can hunt and even when you can hunt."

Once passing all requirements, hunters are able to hunt in accordance with federal and state established seasons and hours. Hunting hours for all species will be in accordance with the seasons and annual sunrise-sunset table published in the annual Hunting and Trapping Regulations published by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Fort Eustis provides hunting Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Additionally, the Fort Eustis Game Check Station is operational on Federal holidays through the use of Hunt Council and Community volunteers.

Hunting on JBLE is not only fun, it is also vital to the mission, said Master Sgt. Ronnie Best, 633rd Civil Engineers Squadron, natural resources manager.

Hunting on JBLE installations controls animal population and protects the flying mission by eliminating aircraft strike, interference and runway shutdown due to nuisances.

"We haven't had any safety incidents and we are very proud [of that]," said Joe Dumas, Fort Eustis 733rd Civil Engineer Division hunting program director. "Safety is paramount and that's what brings so many hunters to JBLE."

The program is open to active-duty, retired, reserve or National Guard military members of any military service and their dependents, and Department Of Defense civilians. At Fort Eustis, non-affiliated civilian personnel may participate, after they complete a Joint Base Langley Eustis 733 Security Forces Squadron background check and speak with Dumas.

Fort Eustis and Langley Air Force Base have different policies in place for each location. The following polices are in addition to rules set by the state of Virginia.

Langley rules:

· Hunters must wear a blaze-orange outer garment anytime in the hunting area during firearm season; the garment may not be removed while hunting.
· There is only elevated, tree-stand hunting from pre-designated stands. Hunters must also wear and utilize a "Tree stand Manufacturer America" safety harness. The hunting program does have a few extra harnesses for those without one
· There is a mandatory safety briefing for all concerning munitions storage area operations
· Only bow, crossbow or shotgun (slug) weapons allowed
· No trapping, night hunting or use of dogs
· No field dressing outside of the designated area

At Fort Eustis:

· Hunters must check out for hunting at the Game Check Station located on Mulberry Island Road before entering designated hunting areas.  Hunters must return to the Game Check Station to check back in immediately upon leaving the hunting area and must bring all harvested game animals to the Game Check Station.
· All hunters receive a general safety brief when purchasing a permit and must possess their safety card while hunting on Fort Eustis. Additionally, all hunters must receive a daily safety brief prior to going afield.
· Hunters must travel directly to/from assigned hunting location.
· Virginia State law requires 100 square inches of blaze orange body visible from 360 degrees. Fort Eustis deer hunters must wear the legally required blaze orange at all times while deer hunting on Fort Eustis. Waterfowl hunters must wear the legally required blaze orange while walking to and from waterfowl hunting locations within the training area during established state deer seasons. Small game hunters must wear the legally required blaze orange for deer hunting at all times.
· Parking in non-designated areas or without a visible parking permit is prohibited. Hunting and parking areas will be posted in the Game Check Station.
· Shotguns, muzzleloaders, bows/crossbows are authorized weapons for hunting use on Fort Eustis. All other rifles, pistols, revolvers, and muzzle loading pistols are unauthorized for hunting use on Fort Eustis.  All weapons must be unloaded, cased and inaccessible while being transported within a vehicle. Ammunition may be stored within the same case as the weapon as long as the weapon is unloaded, cased and inaccessible.
· Hunters must display their ODR Weapon on board placard in their front window of their vehicle while on Fort Eustis.
· For deer, there is only elevated, tree-stand hunting. Hunters may use their own tree stands, so long as it is within 100 yards of the designated stand location marked on the Game Check Station hunt map.
· All deer hunters must use a four point safety harness while on the stand.
· During deer hunting, there is no loading or reloading on the ground. Slugs are the only approved ammunition for shotgun deer hunting.
· No night hunting.
· No field dressing outside of the designated area.
· Dogs are permitted for small game and federal migratory bird hunting.
· Trapping and Spring Turkey seasons are handled by the Fort Eustis Wildlife Biologist, James Dolan.

For more information on JBLE hunting, contact the Fort Eustis hunting information at 878-2610 or 719-8962, Game Check Station. For Langley hunting information, call the hunt coordinator at 764-9600, and for civilian special cases, call Dumas 878-2090.
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