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NEWS | Nov. 8, 2013

'Game' time: JBLE hunting makes safety top priority

By Shaun Eagan 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

As the colder months arrive, hunters head into the woods looking for deer, turkeys and other types of game, which means Joint Base Langley-Eustis is preparing for another hunting season.

While hunting program directors encourage the JBLE community to take advantage of both installations' hunting areas this year, safety is their primary focus.

Whether beginners and children first learning to hunt or seasoned enthusiasts, JBLE has policies in place to make a safe hunting experience for everyone.

"Our program has been running for more than 25 years without a safety incident," explained U.S. Air Force Maj. Sam Gaglio, Langley Air Force Base hunting program coordinator. "One of my goals as the coordinator is to raise the safety standards."

Joe Dumas, Fort Eustis hunting program director, says the safe environment is what attracts people to hunting areas.

"The safety programs are what makes hunting on JBLE special," said Dumas. "Our goal is to make the environment as safe as possible."

According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the one major requirement for hunters is a state hunting license that can be obtained off base. A hunter's safety course is also required for children ages 12-15 and first-time hunters.

In addition to state law, JBLE requires all hunters, regardless of age or experience, to complete a hunter's safety course before hunting 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.

On Langley, it is mandatory for hunters to supply five documents, which cover liability, transportation of weapons and criminal activity checks, according to Gaglio. Additionally, at the beginning of each archery season, hunters must also pass a five-shot accuracy test that ranges from 15-25 yards.

"The accuracy test is not to turn people away from hunting," explained Gaglio. "We want to ensure the weapons are adjusted and everyone knows how to use their equipment correctly."

Once passing all requirements, the hunting sessions at Langley begin at sunrise and runs for two four-hour sessions on Saturdays, holidays and Air Combat Command down-days. The hunters are assigned tree stands where they must remain for the entire session, which allows the program directors to maintain accountability.

"Each tree stand requires a hunter-supplied safety harness so the hunter won't get hurt if they fall off the stand," said Gaglio. "Once the hunting starts, no one is allowed to leave the stand until it's over to avoid someone shooting another hunter."

According to Gaglio, program personnel routinely check and inspect the stands, in addition to marking and clearing trails from debris and poison ivy. Although Virginia state law requires a 100-square-inch blaze orange outer garment, due to each tree stand's proximity to one another, a 400-square-inch one is required.

"It's our goal to continue to improve the hunting safety requirements for Langley," said Gaglio. "We want this program to be a place where any hunter, beginner or expert, can come to and enjoy themselves."

Similar to Langley, Fort Eustis' program requires a tree-stand assignment to maintain accountability, but also offers high-chair hunting. The program personnel also maintain and inspect the equipment provided for the safety of the hunters.

The Fort Eustis hunting program is open every day except Thursday and Sunday. Dumas said the program permits hunting in specific training areas, so the staff knows exactly where everyone will hunt. Also, hunters are required to wear the state-mandated 100-square-inch blaze orange outer garment.

In addition to safety rules, Eustis established a new hunting council this season, which serves as a communicator between hunters and the program, said Dumas.

"The council will be a huge asset to the program," said Dumas. "They will help spread information, clear paths, scout for game and help support the hunting program in many ways. The council will be someone the hunters can talk about issues or concerns. They're going to play a huge role in making this a great hunting season."

Those interested must contact the program directors prior to hunting:

Langley Air Force Base: Alternate director Kevin Graves at or 685-9462.

Fort Eustis: Joe Dumas at or 878-2610.