DFG actions force largest hunter safety class in state to

spectr17

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HUNTER SAFETY CLASS FOLDS -- Jim Matthews column 08may02

DFG actions force largest hunter safety class in state to close

    The largest hunter safety class in the state has been forced to close it's doors because the Department of Fish and Game wardens who oversee the program believe the class operators are charging too much money -- even though all the fees are justified under the DFG's own guidelines.

    The cancellation of the Turner's Outdoorsman classes will potentially eliminate 10 percent of all the students who earn hunter safety certificates statewide because there is a severe shortage of classes now.

    "I have people from Northern California fly into Ontario, rent a car, and come to our class because they can't get a class there," said Mike Raahauge, who helps administer the program with Turner's.

    The cancellation of this program will leave a huge hole in the hunter safety program statewide and will almost certainly cost the DFG money in lost license revenue. And it's all happening because there are people within the DFG who don't have a clue about what it takes to run successful classes or how to gauge the actual costs involved.

    Andy McCormick, Turner's Outdoorsman's public relations specialist who oversees the hunter safety classes, said Turner's has continued to operate the classes at $35 per student for years -- a fee that is increasingly less than it costs to run the program. Turner's has continued to do these classes because they recognize that it is good for their business and for the state to recruit and properly educate new hunter-conservationists so they will buy hunting licenses that support the state's wildlife programs and handle guns safely.

    "We really believe in this program, which is why we've gotten behind it in such a big way over the years, but now everything's coming to a screeching halt due to the infinite wisdom of Fish and Game," said McCormick of the Turner's decision to pull the plug on the classes because the DFG won't allow them to charge the $35 fee.

    As background, the Turner's Outdoorsman classes were held 17 times a year at Mike Raahauge's Shooting Enterprises in Chino and most classes had 100 to 150 students. Mike Raahauge said around 2,000 first-time hunters and new gun owners took the class each year.

    The Turner's-Raahauge class attendance represents 10 percent of the total who take such classes statewide, according to warden Joe Gonzales, deputy chief of hunter education for the DFG in Sacramento. Gonzales said there are 1,400 to 1,500 "active" hunter safety instructors and that from 19,000 to 25,000 new hunters take the class each year in California. The total was about 21,000 in 2001.

    "We're 10 percent of the whole program?" asked McCormick, when he learned how many students took the classes statewide. Then he got red in the face. "Gonzales sat in this office and lied to us. He told us some astronomical number. Now, I assume to make us feel like we were a minuscule part of the program."

    This is an agency that just doesn't get it. Turner's five to eight volunteer instructors teach about 2,000 students a year, or about 250 students each That means the rest of the state's instructors average about 10 students per year. It's almost like the DFG is penalizing someone who's doing a good job.

    "This is one of the best classes in the state. Our volunteers are mostly school teachers who believe in this program and have been doing it for 20 years," said McCormick. "We have one of the lowest failure rates in the state because our instructors do such a good job. We support these guys by filling their classes. Yet, the DFG wants us to do these classes at an even greater loss? There's a point where we have to say `that's it.' Well, we're there."

    But several warden's I've spoke with somehow, ignorantly believe Turner's and Raahauge's are making a killing on this program. Perhaps it comes from never having a job in the private sector or tried to run a business.

    "By law, [hunter safety instructors] are not allowed to charge for their services, but they can charge to cover fees," said Gonzales.

    Apparently, they can charge for fees unless the DFG arbitrarily says you can't charge for fees or doesn't like them.

    Hunter education coordinator Mike Wolter of Victorville in an April 23 letter to Jim Bozarth, one of the main volunteer instructors for the Turner's-Raahauge classes, refused to allow for two major expenses. One makes the class a success and the other allows it to happen.

    First, Wolter said the $1,000 a month advertising fee that Turner's uses to put information about the classes in all of its advertising in 13 to 16 newspapers in the region each week, on its web site, and in flyers it distributes at its stores and events throughout the region wasn't allowed this year. The fee is a fraction of what it normally costs for co-operative advertising as part of a Turner's ad, and an even smaller portion of what it would cost to buy a separate ad in all of those publications each week.

    Second, Wolter arbitrarily cut the hall rental fee where the class is held from $2,200 to $1,700, as if he could control what someone charges for their facility rental.

    Yet, according to the DFG's Hunter Education Operation Manual hunter safety, while instructors cannot make a profit teaching the classes, they can charge students a fee to cover the expenses of running the program, including "range fees, ammunition, mileage, advertising, classroom and equipment rental," and other fees.

    The real waste of money is paying the salaries of the DFG staff administering this program. They want the volunteers and those who support hunter safety in the private community to work for free and foot the costs of running a successful class. Yet, these same wardens draw their check each week. Maybe the wardens should not be paid for the time they spend working on hunter safety.

    There's a better solution: Since the hunter safety program is federally funded with Pittman-Robertson funds (an excise tax on hunting and shooting equipment), it's time for the state legislature to turn the administration and operation of hunter safety over to a non-profit group set up to run this show. Get the DFG out of the program. I'd bet we'd save on administration, staffing, printing costs for all the materials the DFG provides to instructors, and increase the number of people who take the classes.
 

Marty

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Another case of pure ineptitude on behalf of the DFG.

I took the Turners' class years ago and was EXTREMELY satisfied with the course content and fees.  I certainly did not think the fees were too high.

I guess Turners' will have to reduce fees, charge for lunch, and solicit each class member for soft donations.  Gee, thanks DFG.
 

Bishop

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Sent my 2 step sons to the Turners hunter safety course.  
Most of the hunter safety courses I have seen charge $5-10.00 for a material fee.  By law they cannot charge for instruction, only materials and extras like food & drink.
I thought the extra $25.00 Turner's was charging was probably OK since they advertised "continental breakfast & BBQ lunch".  We'll, continental breakfast was donuts & a drink.  BBQ lunch was a hotdog, bag of chips, and glass of lemonade.  I don't know about you guys, but for an extra $25.00 I would expect more than a couple donuts and a hotdog.  There was close to 200 people there, so just the advertising Turners and Raahauge's got out of the deal should have been enough for them instead of gouging everybody for the food.    
 

Pasco

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I took the class at Raahauge's, and my son took it last year.  I could have gone to at least 3 other locations as close to home.  I chose to shell out the extra $25 to go to Raahauge.  The instructors are entertaining and my son remembers the lessons taught (especially by Thor, he does a great job with the kids).  The DFG needs to let the market decide if $35 is too much, it's not too much for me.

I almost forgot to mention, while the boy was in class I managed to get in a round of sporting clays and 5 stand.  I also sneaked a couple hot dogs at lunch.  A $12.50 hot dog is about on par with a Disneyland lunch or a dog and a beer at the Big A. lol


(Edited by SoCalxJR at 11:27 am on May 9, 2002)
 

EL CAZADOR

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I took my safety class at the Project 2000 Shooting Range in San Deigo.  It was only $5.  Why would I pay $30 more for lunch?   It may be a great class, but they are all exactly the same.

I agree with the DFG, Turners was taking advantage of something that is mandatory.
 

foulshot

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I'll be hosting classes in my backyard this weekend.  $25-Breakfast and Lunch included.
Any takers-please send cash.

LOL

Who is Turners kidding, the lure of the almighty buck has come back to bight them in the A$$. It's bad enought how much they mark up all their product at the stores, now this. My class was $10 and very entertaining.  Took it at MCRD in San Diego.  The instructor was Noel Allan.(not sure of the spelling)
 

Kickaha

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I believe in the free market all the way.  If Turners wants to charge $100 for the class, what do I care?  I'll just go somewhere else less expensive.  If people are willing to pay the price and are happy with the results, that's all that matters.  The only possible gotcha is their $25 hotdogs.  They should probably be more forthcoming about where the money is going.
 

Bishop

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Kick, the only problem I got with the free market idea is that the Hunter Safety class is required before you can get a license.  You got no choice (legally) but to take the course.  So, I see what their doing is sort of like your smog check place telling you the smog check will be $150.00 because their going to serve lunch while you wait.
 

bossrooster

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I thank TURNER's for stepping up to the plate an providing a place and outlet for the continuation of the sport that we all so dearly love and cherish.  There are some individuals in our society that feel that the paying of property taxes, building maintaince, telephone, electric and gas bills etc. should not be reimbursed for doing public service work.  The last time I check Turner's & Mike Raahagues Enterprises  were not on the receiving end of payments from the STATE of CA or the Fed's to provide a hunter Safety Program, that is mandated by the DFG before you can purchase a HUNTING License.  IF this Program was Run by the DFG solely there would not be any  PROGRAM.  Again I thank Turner's for they're past efforts and only regret the tremendous loss of future conservationist and responsible hunters.  Another example of the misguided and mismanaged CA. Department of Fish and Game.
 

Bishop

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Bossrooster,
welcome to Jesse's.  Which Turners do you work at? (just kidding).  You found a good place to hang out.  Great guys, and a friendly campfire.  This thread is about as heated as any of our debates go, that's why this forum is so popular.  We can disagree on things and still be gentlemen and sportsman.  You didn't post  where your from, but if your from California you've found the biggest Cal group on the web.
 

spectr17

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It appears some of you have never experienced what it takes to run a program or business. If you feel the fee is too high you are or were, free to attend a cheaper class. By the numbers and previous posts it appears many felt the fee wasn't out of line.  The class I attended was put on by the Riverside Sheriff because it was the closest I could find at the time to my home. I would have probably even paid $5 or $10 more to attend a class closer to my home rather than drive an hour to attend class.

Bottom line, DFG just lost a class that helped bring quite a few hunters into our fold.  I see that as a loss.
 

karstic

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Matthews alludes that the DFG is mismanaging the program and that Turners/Raahauge is the innocent victem, but wheres the breakdown of why it cost $35 to take the class. Turners-Raahaugees probably makes money off each person that takes that course in rifles, gear, ammunition, duck hunts, pheasants hunts, sporting clays rounds, etc. They potentially stand to make a profit for each person that takes the hunter safety course.
 

Marty

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POTENTIALLY, yes.  Turners' does stand to turn a profit on each attendee.  However, "show me the numbers".  

Two things: First, I'm all for seeing the numbers; good or bad. If something is wrong, let's fix it.  Where does the problem reside - Turners or DFG? Second, I attended and paid for the Turners class out of my own volition.  It was the closest, regularily scheduled class I could find. Instructors were good and the course was thorough.  
 

karstic

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Marty I didn't mean make a profit directly from the course, rather every person that takes that course is probably going to buy a gun ,ammunition, gear, etc. They'll probably get it from Turners. Half the people that took the course probably saw it on a poster in a Turners store or was recommended by one of Turners staff. Same thing for Raahauges, its free advertising for him to have the course at his facility. He's had 2000 people brought out to his facility to take the course. How many are going to go back and shoot sporting clays or go duck or pheasant hunting. Hunting is an expensive sport as it is, I don't think we need retailers making a profit off of something mandated by the state. Couldn't Turners or Raahauges use some of the related costs as a tax right-off? If its costing Turners/Raahauges money, then they should have no problem not offering the course, no one is forcing them to do it.

Using the numbers given in the article the course brings in $70k, $12K is spent on advertising, $26.5K on the facility, I figure $10k for food and $10k for materials. There's $11.5 unaccounted for? Where does it go to?

I took hunter safety over 10 years ago and I've thought of taking it again because I have heard that it has changed. I don't think $35 is too much to pay and I probably would have taken a course through Turner's. Obviously the DFG finds something wrong with the price being charge, the parties should sit down and figure how to fix it.
 

huntducks

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Bishop i'm with you.

Turners & Raahauges do nothing for free, i'm glad the DFG closed it down, these two did nothing but make money off a bunch of new hunter that know nothing about the costs, I think the instructors that did it did so for free, I had a neighbor that was going to go to turners, and I told him about a $10 class, he had no clue about how & why the hunter safty class was run he just said in todays market $35 did not seem out of line so with that mind set I see how they made it work, I know for awhile anyone who took the class got a free afternoon chicken hunting, but off course few birds were left and i'll bet at least 1 out of 5 paid for a full day latter, and bought a new shotgun & shells at Turners.

Shame on them for charging $25 for a hot dog & coke, and i'll bet the dognuts where not even Krispy Kream.
 

Kickaha

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If Turner's had a monopoly on the class, I'd agree to the DFG capping the price.  But they don't.  Let's say, for example, that I wanted to start a class and the DFG approved.  And let's say that I wanted to charge $1,000 for it.  $10 for fees and $990 for "extras".  I don't see why I should be prevented from doing so.  No one would be forced to take my class, but if they wanted to, why stop them?

Also thought I read someplace that you could go to the DFG and take the test without taking a class?
 

duckme

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I can't believe that 35 bucks for a 1 time safety coarse could be so financely draining that we have to give our goverment the power to say we can or can't charge that much.Big deal if this business gets advertisement from this event.Do you want everything to be goverment controled?You are free at this point to take a class some where else.The bottom line is we need more hunters that are educated and will stick together .We need private businesses that sell us our equipment so we can hunt and shoot guns.And no I don't work for this company I am a bricklayer that doesn't mind getting what I pay for.

(Edited by duckme at 8:26 am on May 12, 2002)
 

EL CAZADOR

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Everybody is right, Raahauges doesn't have a monopoly on the safety course because of the amount of classes clearly available, and Raahauges does have the right to charge what the market will bear.  I just can't imagine that it actually cost $35 per person to run the program.

An idea for the DFG would be to promote all of the hunter safety courses maybe through a CO-OP program with sporting good stores and private industry.  Maybe they should put a $ cap on the program.
 


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