Missouri Dept. of Conservation educating kids about hunting

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COLUMBIA - As the leaves start to change colors and fall off the trees, outdoor enthusiasts around Missouri know it means one thing - hunting season. 

The Missouri Department of Conservation is helping younger people around the state learn about hunting and gun safety, as well as conservation practices. 

Children ages 11 and older can participate in hunting education classes through the department. The classes require online work about safety and practices before students enter the classroom. 

"There's a lot of instruction either through the online instruction about how to properly handle firearms and identifying the target and keeping the firearm unloaded," Protection District Supervisor Scott Rice said."Some of our classroom portion does have to do with hands-on training firearms."

Target Masters employee Jim Hill said safety is the key. 

"I believe in education at an early age for children," he said. "If you take the mystique away from a gun you don't have to worry about." 

Hill taught the hunting education classes before there was an age requirement back in the 1980s and the 1990s. 

"During that period of time there was no age limit like it is now," he said. "Back in those days we'd have kids five, six, seven, eight years old taking hunter safety."

The Department of Conservation's next education class will be on Saturday, Sept. 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on MU's campus. 

Firearms hunting season for turkeys begins Oct. 1. 

Guns are on display at Target Masters, a gun shop, on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, in Columbia, Missouri. Target Masters employee Jim Hill said concealed carry classes are currently taught there once a month.

Casings lay on the floor of the shooting range at Target Masters on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, in Columbia, Missouri. Deer archery season for Missouri started on Monday and the main portion of deer firearm season starts mid-November.

Employee Jim Hill stands behind the counter at Target Masters on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014 in Columbia, Missouri. Hill said he used to teach hunting education classes before an age requirement was in place.