Division of Natural Resources conservation officers Dennis Feazell and Cpl. William Lilly hand out gun safety information at Shady Spring Middle School’s health fair last Friday.

Conservation officers from the state Division of Natural Resources talked with about 550 students at Shady Spring Middle School’s health fair last Friday. The officers talked with students about gun safety, but also encouraged the younger generation to get off the sofa and out into the forest.

“A lot of kids like to play video games,” Sgt. W.W. Brogan said. “We encourage them to do outdoor activities like hunting and fishing.”

Brogan admitted he enjoys playing video games himself, but expressed concern that young people are not getting the exercise they need to stay healthy.

“We have a lot of opportunities in this state for outdoor recreation,” he said. “A lot of kids like to hunt, but they don’t know what opportunities are available to them.”

One of those opportunities is “youth day” — a special hunting day held three times a year in West Virginia. On these days, only eight-to-14-year-old hunters are allowed in the woods, under the supervision of a licensed adult over 21.

The day gives young hunters a chance to get interested in the sport, Brogan said.

“If you are a true sportsman, nothing is better than taking a young kid out and watching them harvest a deer or turkey and teaching them the hunting heritage,” he said.

Conservation officers at the health fair also discussed safety with Shady Spring students. The DNR preaches what it calls the “10 Commandments of Gun Safety,” which include such principles as “treat every gun as if it is loaded,” Brogan said.

“The number one concern out here is that we want hunters to be safe,” he said.

DNR offers a hunter safety course that is taught by conservation officers throughout the state. The course is mandatory for anyone born after Jan. 1, 1975, who wishes to get a hunting license. Those interested in taking the course should contact their local DNR office for course schedule and online testing information.

For more information, contact DNR’s Beckley office at 256-6945 or visit the DNR Web site at

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