Apprentice Hunting License

Summary

In an attempt to encourage novice hunter participation, many states now offer some form of apprentice hunting license to encourage potential hunters to take to the field. The apprentice hunting license is a tool for recruitment that provides both youth and adult novice hunters the opportunity to hunt under the supervision of a licensed hunter before they have completed their hunter education course. These programs allow apprentice hunters to receive hands-on experience and provide additional incentive to complete a formal hunter education course.

Introduction

To increase hunter participation, many states now offer some form of youth season to encourage young potential hunters. The apprentice hunting license is a tool for recruitment that provides both youth and adult novice hunters the opportunity to hunt under the supervision of a licensed hunter before they have completed their hunter education course. In essence, the apprentice license allows potential hunters to “try before they buy,” making entry into the sport less challenging for new recruits. These programs allow apprentice hunters to receive hands-on experience and provide additional incentive to complete a formal hunter education course. In some states, the apprentice hunting license is also called the mentored hunter program. 

History

The issue was introduced to the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC) at the 2005 NASC Annual Meeting and put forward as a NASC issue brief during the 2006 legislative session. Colorado, Iowa, New Jersey, and Montana, among others, passed apprentice hunting legislation in 2015. In 2016, Maine and Tennessee also passed apprentice hunting legislation. 

Points of Interest

It is the duty of each caucus leadership team to determine the best means of action in your respective state and modify the below language as necessary. If the language must be modified, please keep in mind the following:

  • Laws such as minimum age requirements can be relaxed without compromising safety.
  • Apprentice opportunities should be available to each person for a minimum of three years because the process of recruiting a new hunter may take several years due to limited opportunity. For this reason, many states allow multiple year extensions.
  • Wisconsin implemented its apprentice hunting license system during the 2009 hunting season after a long and difficult legislative battle that was blocked for years because of safety concerns. In the 2009 season, more than 10,000 apprentice licenses were sold and there were no firearms-related incidents involving apprentice license holders.
  • As of 2016, 41 states have now passed some type of apprentice license and more than 1.5 million such licenses have been sold nationwide.
  • Comparing the number of hunting-related incidents between apprentice and general hunting licensees, apprentice hunters are four times safer than the average hunter.
  • In the 2017 legislature, Maryland Governor signed HB 1427, establishing an Apprentice Hunting License.

Language

An example of apprentice hunting license legislation can be found below. For further examples of specific language, please contact CSF staff.

  • North Carolina Ch. SL 2013-63: “Hunting Heritage Apprentice Permit. – Authorizes a person who does not meet the hunter education course requirements to purchase a hunting license and hunt if accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age who is licensed to hunt in this State or if accompanied by an adult landholder or spouse exempted from the hunting license requirement, provided the licensee is hunting on the landholder's land. For purposes of this section, "accompanied" means that the licensed adult maintains a proximity that enables the adult to monitor the activities of the apprentice by remaining within sight and hearing distance at all times without use of electronic devices. This permit is valid only for the term of the hunting license purchased under the authority of the permit.”

Moving Forward

Recruiting new hunters is essential to maintaining our sportsmen’s heritage. As such, it is important to explore and advance programs like apprentice hunting licenses in order to reduce the barriers to participation currently inhibiting the growth of the sportsmen’s community. 

Contact

For more information regarding this issue, please contact Zachary Sheldon at zsheldon@congressionalsportsmen.org.

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