New Mexico became the 34th state today to pass a Families Afield measure when the State Game Commission unanimously approved an amendment to the state’s hunter education requirements. That amendment, called mentored-youth hunting, paves the way for youth hunters to take to the field under the watchful eye of a mentor, prior to completing the state’s comprehensive Hunter Education course.
“New Mexico is yet another example of a state taking the necessary steps to ensure the future of its hunting heritage through the Families Afield program,” said Evan Heusinkveld, USSA Director of State Services. “We’re extremely proud of the leadership and the staff at the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish that championed this change. Time and time again, Families Afield has demonstrated its value in recruiting and retaining new hunters in a safe and exciting manner. We expect nothing less in New Mexico.”
New hunters under the age of 18 using the mentored hunting license would only be allowed to hunt while under the close supervision of a legally licensed adult hunter. As is part of all Families Afield bills, the youth hunter must still complete the full Hunter Education course before becoming a fully licensed hunter and hunting without supervision.
“With their vote, the State Game Commission affirmed the desire to implement a program that will immediately enable children to have a positive experience when given the chance to hunt with a mentor,” said Jim Lane, Director of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. “I am extremely excited about what this means for the future of hunting in New Mexico and proud of my staff for working with our hunter education instructors to build a program that will ultimately form the next generation of safe and responsible hunters.”
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 33 states with more than 782,000 apprentice or mentored hunting licenses sold since the program’s inception.