Contact: Clay Chester, Southeastern States Coordinator
On June 25, Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Tate Reeves signed House Bill 1577 into law. The legislation, sponsored by Mississippi Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) Member Speaker Philip Gunn, authorizes a hunter safety course for students in Grades 7 through 12 that will satisfy the hunter education course requirement for purchasing a hunting license.
Adding a hunter safety course to a student’s elective academic curriculum supports efforts to recruit the next generation of hunters. Offering hunter education courses in schools also encourages youth to become active in the outdoors to combat sedentary behavior and improve physical health.
The State Board of Education (Board) will consult with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) to prepare resources and guidelines for local school boards to develop the courses. The hunter safety courses can be conducted during the day or as an after-school program and will be designed to expose students to firearm safety. The statute clarifies that the use of operable weapons and live ammunition in the course is prohibited, and that the instructor must be well trained and credentialed to provide instruction in the safe handling of firearms.
The law will be effective on July 1, 2020, and courses may begin in the 2020-2021 school year. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation would like to thank the Caucus, the Governor, the MDWFP and the Board for supporting hunter recruitment efforts through their work to pass this legislation.
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?