Written by Devon Boen
Wolf Point resident Roger Wimmer has been an avid hunter and a teacher of the sport for 40 years. He began hunting in high school and was encouraged by Kermit Gylser to participate in the hunter safety program.
It was his first step into the educational side of his favorite pastime, which would become one of his passions in its own right. He started out as an apprentice and later became an instructor.
Wimmer said the program has changed a lot over the past four decades and no longer simply teaches safety. The class educates students about landowner/sportsman relationships, the importance of following hunting laws, rifle safety, shooting skills and ammunition.
Wimmer was persuaded to teach after witnessing multiple hunting accidents. He also stressed how much he enjoyed working with the students.
“The youth are excellent to work with,” Wimmer said.
But make no mistake, hunters’ education isn’t just a young man’s arena. Wimmer teaches about one class a year and students range from 11 years old well into adulthood. Participants born after 1985 are required to complete 12 hours of hunter education, but Wimmer said it is a topic that interests most students, so it isn’t a begrudging process.
To keep the classes fun, Wimmer plans field days. The lesson is taken out of the classroom and into the great outdoors. He also brings in special guest speakers — he recently had a game warden visit and give a lecture to the class.
He was recently honored by the Montana Parks, Fish and Wildlife Foundation for his four decades of service. Volunteer teachers are honored every five years with a variety of rewards. But Wimmer’s gift was slightly different than the plaques and gift certificates he received in previous years. He was given a challenge coin.
Challenge coins were struck during World War II by pilots and given to each person in a squadron. Wimmer explained that anyone with a similar coin could challenge him in a public place. If he didn’t have the coin on him, he would have to buy — whether it was coffee, drinks or dinner.
He appreciated the honor, but explained that his favorite part of teaching was the enthusiasm of the students and being able to pass along his knowledge and love of hunting. Wimmer said students update him on their progress long after they’ve graduated from his class.
Wimmer said anyone could enroll in the class and those who would like to follow in his teaching footsteps could volunteer as an apprentice and eventually become a hunting educator.