Longtime instructor quits to find his own set of tracks
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” On Sunday, Aug. 10, after teaching countless hunter education classes for the Colorado Division of Wildlife and certifying more than 2,000 students over the past 20 years, Dennis Bader hung up his hunter-orange instructor’s vest for good.
“It’s a serious part-time job anymore,” Bader said. “It’s just time for me to lighten the load.”
But just because he’s not going to be teaching others the way of the hunt, he’ll still bear the hunter’s orange as a participant this fall. Hunting is, and will always be, a part of his life.
“I love to hunt anything,” he said. “I bow hunt, muzzle load, rifle, depending a lot on what type of tags I can draw.”
Teaching less would allow him more time to hunt this year, but he’s not had the luck of the draw.
“The slowdown on teaching will be much welcomed,” he said. “But I would have liked to have gotten a couple more tags. I think every hunter will tell you that.”
He’s probably right.
And if he ever felt like returning to the classroom, just to help out, district wildlife manager for the DOW in Glenwood Springs and long-time friend, Kelly Wood, said that they could always find a place for Bader.
“Him leaving will have a pretty good impact on the area,” Wood said. “We do have some other instructors in the area but he’s helped us out a lot over the years.”
During his last class in Glenwood Springs, a two-day session over Aug. 9-10, Wood presented Bader with a cake and a hand-stitched wall hanging with wildlife scenes and the DOW logo on it. It was something Wood wanted to do to show the DOW’s gratitude for the decades of service Bader has given as a volunteer instructor.
“He’s just done so much for us over the years, we just wanted to show him our appreciation,” Wood said.
Bader wasn’t expecting much more than a handshake, but the cake and wall hanging were a nice sentimental touch.
“I had no idea they were doing that,” Bader said.
The fact that Bader has taught hunter education for so long stems from his background as not only an avid hunter but a teacher as well. He taught math at North Dakota State College of Science for five years before moving to Colorado around 1982. For Bader, it was the best move he’s ever made.
“I was up for tenure and I said to myself, ‘If I sign my contract for my sixth year, I’m here for the rest of my life. And is this where I want to live?'” Bader said. “And I said, ‘no, I want to live in the mountains of Colorado.'”
So, he packed up and moved out and found a job. It wasn’t long after when he was
contacted by the DOW to see if he would have any interest in teaching hunter education after a news story was published in a Summit County newspaper on Bader taking first place in the Colorado State Archery Championship.
“They called me up and said they needed someone to teach archery and bow hunting for the DOW and that it would only be an hour or two a year,” Bader said. “I said, ‘that sounds fine,’ and that’s how I started.”
Bader said that the program is one of the best things that has happened to the sport of hunting and he’s proud to have been a part of it for so long. According to Bader, in 1949, 27 hunters were killed during the deer season in Colorado, and during the 1960s the average was about 10 hunters being killed each hunting season. But thanks to the hunter education program, last year, zero hunters were killed in Colorado and, Bader added, right now he estimated that the average has dropped to less than one hunter being killed in a hunting accident in the past 10 years.
That’s something he’s proud to be a part of.
“I think, when you look at the safety aspect you have to feel good about it. Certifying about 2,000 students, I don’t think I’ve ever had a student that’s had an accident, knock on wood,” Bader said. “So, that’s a pretty good deal.”
Contact John Gardner: 384-9114
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