Montana Senate Passes Families Afield Bill

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Last week, the Montana Senate passed Senate Bill 197, which would create an Apprentice Hunting License for those ages nine and older.  The bill now moves to the Montana House of Representatives for further consideration.

Introduced by Senator Scott Boulanger, Senate Bill 197 would allow an experienced adult mentor to take a newcomer hunting under restricted circumstances prior to the completion of hunter education.  Known as “apprentice hunting,” these licenses are the hallmark of the Families Afield program. The approach, also known as “Try Before You Buy,” has been implemented in 34 other states.  Apprentice licenses are credited with recruiting more than 782,000 new hunters since 2006.

“Families Afield continues to address the multi-decade decline in hunting license sales and hunter recruitment,” said Evan Heusinkveld, USSA’s Director of Government Affairs. “This bill is an opportunity for Montana to protect the future of their hunting heritage by recruiting the next generation of sportsmen and women.  Apprentice licenses have demonstrated their success at not only recruiting and retaining new hunters, but doing so safely.”

The bill passed by a count of 30 to 15, with five Senator’s excused.  Click here to see how your Senator voted!

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 coalition has worked to pass measures in 34 states with more than 782,000 apprentice licenses sold since the program’s inception.

In Montana, the states most prominent sportsmen’s organizations have joined this effort including all four Montana chapters of Safari Club International, the Montana State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Montana Outfitters and Guides Association, Ducks Unlimited, Mule Deer Foundation, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, and Citizens for Balanced Use.