MENDOTA – I got lucky. You on the other hand, don't have to rely on good fortune.
I was one of 70 students hailing from 22 different cities at the hunter safety course last week at VFW Post 4079 in downtown Mendota.
Always the procrastinator, I waited until the week prior to check out possible classes, dates and such. Those in Whiteside County were full, as were as many others in the Sauk Valley area.
I called Fred Reutner, and he assured me that, even though his class at the VFW was at 75, and they could only get 75 books, that I should come and rest assured there would be cancelations.
But his advice worked. Five minutes after the first class was to start last Thursday, folks – many of them families – were squeezing in, and Rod Campbell set up many aspiring hunters with a seat across from others. They'd have to turn to see him, but they were in.
DNR spokesman Tim Schweitzer says the classes' popularity is nothing new.
"If you plan to hunt this fall, you should be looking at the schedule now," he said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Many turkey hunters scrambled to get into a class in time for the ongoing season.
A young woman from Sheridan approached Campbell after Thursday's class to find out when the field day would take place. That wouldn't be necessary, because she found a live course, rather than the online one for which she nearly settled. A field day supplement is required if the course is taken online. And they aren't offered very often.
Interested solely in bowhunting, the young woman had nearly given up on finding a class until she saw she could drive 45 minutes west. That's nothing. One young man drove 3 hours, round trip for the course.
I spent about 25 years putting off hunter's safety. I'm glad I didn't wait another 2 weeks. Do as I say, not as I almost did. Whether you're a parent, a young 'un or an old fogey like me, find a class today.
Find your course
Visit dnr.state.il.us/safety/map.htm to see the region-by-region lists of hunter safety courses. The page is updated weekly.