By Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager
Illinois HB 3623, sponsored by Illinois Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-chair Representative Jerry Costello, looks to expand current apprentice licensing. This legislation amends the current law and would allow individuals to apply for an apprentice hunting license more than once. If passed, the bill would remove the “one-time” stipulation, allowing novice hunters the opportunity to take advantage of a mentor hunt multiple times until they feel comfortable taking the next step.
In an effort to increase hunter participation, many states now offer different youth seasons or programs to encourage potential hunters to go afield. The apprentice hunting license is one of the most common programs that many states have implemented in recent years.
The apprentice hunting license is a tool 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. The program allows participants to have limited hunting privileges, granting them the opportunity to experience hunting first hand and learn valuable skills before deciding to commit to a hunting education class. Because hunting opportunities are often limited for a new hunter, it is important to note that apprentice hunters are able to apply for the license more than once. If an apprentice hunter is able to learn and grow with guidance, they are more likely to take the next steps required to start hunting independently.
“It often takes a person a few years of hunting with a mentor before they feel comfortable investing the time to take a hunting safety class and to become a hunter themselves,” said Rep. Costello. “We should be removing barriers to recruiting new hunters, especially young hunters, which eventually translates into more funding for conservation. This bill does that.”
Recruiting new hunters is essential to maintaining our outdoor heritage. As such, it is important to explore and advance programs like apprentice hunting licenses in order to reduce the barriers to participation and attract new members to the sportsmen’s community.
This bill has passed the Illinois State House 95-0 and is currently on its way to the Senate.
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- Improve hunter and target shooter involvement in regulatory and legislative processes. (12.80%)
- Enact or expand temporary hunter education deferral programs (apprentice license programs, multiyear options, programs for all first-time hunters regardless of age, and programs promoting hunting of multiple game species). (10.40%)
- Offer shooting sports and hunter education as school activities and recreation programs. (61.60%)
- Link existing programming into family-oriented organizations (such as churches and home-school groups) where participants will have the social support to continue. (15.20%)