Yes you need a puller so you don't bang up the threads on the shaft. Most auto parts stores will have them, some even rent them. On a 97 column it is fairly easy to pull the steering wheel...
1. two screws under the wheel to take off the horn pad
2. lift gently and move it over to find the horn wire, there is a white plastic connector that you need to push down and twist counter-clockwise to unhook.
3. you will see a black plastic cover with three slots, use the slots and a flat blade screwdriver to lift this up. ( note the position so you can put it back later)
4. there is a triangular shaped clip on top of the shaft, THIS IS THE SAFETY CLIP, you MUST remember to put this back on when done.
5. now you are at the steering wheel, note the position of the shaft relative to your wheels so that when you put the steering wheel on it will line up straight. there should be an index mark on both the shaft and the steering wheel to get it aligned.
6. this is where you need the steering wheel puller, two screws through the yoke of the puller into the steering wheel. turn the center screw until it pops off.
Don't bother with anything else below this point. Now just reverse the directions and enjoy your new steering wheel.