By Nick Buggia, Upper Midwestern States Manager
On December 12, a bill that would reduce the minimum age for hunting big game on public land passed the Michigan legislature and now heads to Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Rick Snyder’s desk. House Bill 5711 was introduced by Michigan Sportsmen’s Caucus Co-Chair Representative Triston Cole.
House Bill 5711 “…would amend the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA) to change (from 14 years old to 10) the age at which minor children can hunt deer, bear, or elk with a firearm on public land. Currently, a minor who is at least 10 but less than 14 years old can hunt under a license to take deer, bear, or elk with a firearm only on private property and only when accompanied by his or her parent or guardian or by another individual authorized by a parent or guardian who is at least 18 years old or, for an apprentice license, who is 21 years old and licensed to hunt that game under a license that is not an apprentice license.”
“This plan enhances the Mentored Youth Hunt program’s effort to give more Michigan kids the opportunity to learn a rewarding skill by allowing them to hunt on public land,” said Rep. Cole. “Many kids don’t have access to private land for hunting, so expanding the mentored youth hunt to include public land will allow more parents and grandparents to pass their love of the outdoors to the next generation. I am pleased to see this proposal take another big step toward becoming law.”
This bill will open up an additional 4.5 million acers of public lands in Michigan for mentored hunting opportunities. In addition, it would allow minors at least 10 years old or older to hunt any game on land which a parent or guardian resides, whether accompanied or alone.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?