Crofts honored for teaching hunter safety | News, Sports, Jobs
picture by: Photo by Joselyn King
WHEELING — Retired Ohio County Sheriff’s Deputy Harry Croft recalls a time when a friend of his was knocked from a tree and injured while hunting. He knows of other incidents where a man waved at another hunter from a tree, and the second man thought he was a squirrel and fired a shot.
Then there was a moment when two hunters were walking in a field, and a third hunter in the distance mistook them for turkeys and shot them.
“As a fellow hunter, those are the kinds of things that drive you crazy,” Croft said.
Croft and his wife Florence were recently inducted into the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources Hunter Education Hall of Fame after 32 years of teaching hunter education in the Ohio Valley.
Their sons Matthew and Nelson, also a retired Ohio county deputy who is now director of the county animal shelter, helped them along the way.
“We do not receive any compensation. We are just volunteers,” said Harry Croft. “We teach a lot and do a lot for the community, and apparently that’s why they gave it to us. We had many years.
Croft said that in addition to hunter safety, he also taught law enforcement courses for 25 years, as well as archery safety courses.
“You don’t get any financial (compensation) for teaching a class,” he continued. “If there are shipping costs, we pay them. Cabela’s leaves the room to us, and the rest is up to us.
“The only thing you get is when the kids come in and they have a picture of their very first deer, their first turkey. Or they say something happened at home, and we helped someone to be safe.
And sometimes you get a smile from a kid, Croft added. He is holding a children’s album with their first deer.
“It’s the thanks you get,” he said. “The personal touches are what’s special to us.”
Hunter Education Class participants must be at least 10 years old and the card received is accepted in all states.
In West Virginia, hunters age 15 and older must have a hunter’s education card to obtain a hunting license in the state.
It is also necessary for any hunter wishing to participate in the City of Wheeling’s “Urban Hunt”.
The Crofts class provides this certification while conveying safety and conservation information.
“It’s full of security. We don’t teach people to be hunters,” said Harry Croft. “A lot of people who take the course aren’t even hunters. They do it for safety and to be around other people.
Hunter education courses are three-day sessions held at Cabela’s three times a year. Classes take place from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. The March session taking place in Ohio County just ended, but future sessions are scheduled for September 12-14 and October 17-19.
A National Bowhunters Education Class is scheduled for June 4 at the Ohio County Wildlife League. The lessons are all free. Those interested in participating should visit wvhuntered.com or wvdnr.gov online and click on the “find a class” registration link.