South Dakota: Governor Signs Bill Expanding Mentored Hunting Program into Law

By Zachary Sheldon, Upper Midwestern States Coordinator

On March 23, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus (GSC) Member Governor Dennis Daugaard signed Senate Bill 137 Introduced by South Dakota Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Senator Jason Frerichs and sponsored in the House by Caucus Co-Chair Representative Herman Otten, the bill expands South Dakota’s mentored hunting program by removing the restriction that the mentored hunter must be at least 10-years old.

“The best way to spur interest in hunting is to get more people into the field when they’re young,” said Sen. Frerichs. “This bill puts the power back into the hands of parents and guardians, allowing them to decide when their child is mature enough to hunt, and removes a barrier to getting involved in the outdoors.”

Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) Upper Midwestern States Coordinator Zachary Sheldon submitted written testimony to the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on February 1 supporting its passage. The bill subsequently passed out of Committee with unanimous support.

Mentored hunting allows outdoor mentors to instill safety, ethics, and a passion for wildlife conservation in new hunters, without requiring significant time in a hunter education course before having the chance to experience hunting first-hand. It is also an imperative part of recruitment, retention, and reactivation efforts.

Hunters and anglers in the Mount Rushmore State spend nearly $1 billion annually, supporting over 12,000 jobs in the state and providing more than $60 million in state and local tax revenues.

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