House Bill 4371, sponsored by Representative Peter Pettalia (R- Presque Isle) and Senate Bill 207, sponsored by Senator Joe Hune (R- Hamburg Township), were signed into law this week by Governor Rick Snyder. The bills eliminate the state’s arbitrary minimum hunting age and create a new mentored youth hunting program.
Michigan law had prohibited youth under the age of 10 from hunting, even when under the supervision of a mentoring adult. Under this new legislation, these youth will now be able to experience hunting under a program administered by the state’s Natural Resources Commission. These new youth hunters will be permitted to hunt while under the supervision of an experienced adult mentor.
This is the second round of Families Afield legislation passed in Michigan since the program’s inception in 2004.
The Families Afield initiative was established by the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the National Wild Turkey Federation to bring a new generation of sportsmen to the field. Along with the National Rifle Association and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the Families Afield coalition has worked to pass measures in 32 states with more than 600,000 apprentice or mentored hunting licenses sold since the program’s inception.
In 2004, Michigan was classified as one of the most restrictive states in the country for new hunters. These restrictions were a major factor in the state’s dwindling hunter recruitment numbers.
Michigan’s restrictions included prohibiting youth under the age of 14 from hunting big game and prohibiting those under 12 from hunting small game. Only New York had a higher minimum hunting age requirement. Additionally, Michigan did not have an apprentice hunting program where new hunters could try out hunting under the supervision of an experienced mentor before taking a hunter education course.
In 2006, Michigan took its first step toward lowering these unnecessary restrictions and reversing its low hunter replacement numbers. By passing Families Afield legislation, the state reduced its minimum hunting age from 14 to 12 for big game and from 12 to 10 for small game. It also created an apprentice hunting license for those 10 and older.
This year, Michigan took the next step, fully adopting the Families Afield approach. The state completely removed the minimum hunting age and created a mentored youth hunting program for those under the age of 10.
Since Families Afield was launched, Michigan has gone from one of the most restrictive states in the country to a state that has nearly ideal regulations aimed at safely recruiting new hunters.
These steps have already begun to produce results for recruiting new hunters in the state. Since 2006, Michigan has sold more than 78,000 apprentice licenses – second only to Pennsylvania.
Michigan has become the latest example of the success of the Families Afield program, the hard work of sportsmen, and the recognition by state lawmakers for the need to recruit and retain new hunters.
About the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance:
The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) is a watchdog organization that provides direct lobbying and grassroots coalition support to protect and advance the rights of hunters, trappers, anglers, and scientific wildlife management professionals. The USSA is the only organization exclusively devoted to combating the attacks made on America’s sportsman traditions by anti-hunting and animal rights extremists. This is accomplished through coalition building, ballot issue campaigning and legislative and government relations.
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Dual Families Afield bills in North Carolina–House Bill 296, sponsored by Representative John Bell (R-Goldsboro), and Senate Bill 234, sponsored by E.S. Buck Newton (R-Wilson)—are one step closer to becoming …
The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance (USSA) provides direct lobbying and grassroots coalition support to protect and advance the rights of hunters, trappers, anglers, and scientific wildlife management professionals... Read More.