Wednesday, February 18, 2009

H.243 Mentored hunting program



H. 243
AN ACT RELATING TO THE CREATION OF AN APPRENTICE HUNTING LICENSE
As Introduced

Introduced by Representatives Adams of Hartland, Consejo of Sheldon, Fagan
of Rutland City, McCullough of Williston, Peltz of Woodbury
and Rodgers of Glover


Subject: Fish and wildlife; licenses; mentored hunting program

Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to create a mentored hunting license.

The license will allow an individual of any age to hunt for two seasons without
taking a hunter education course or having a hunting license. This bill would
allow mentored-hunter license holders to hunt under the direct control and
supervision of any fully licensed individual over the age of 21 subject to the
fully licensed hunter’s bag limit.

This bill addresses two important issues for the future of hunting in Vermont; 1) recruitment of new hunters, 2)deepening the support for hunters and the hunting culture. It does this by allowing interested people of all ages to try hunting in a meaningful way before forcing them to commit a lot of time or money. The normal steps for a person to take up a sport or recreation is 1) become aware of it, 2) find out more about it, 3) try it, 4) commit time and money to it, 5) continue with support, 6) continue with out assistance, 7) become avid and an advocate for the sport. Hunting because of well documented safety reasons reversed steps 3 and 4 when hunter safety became mandatory starting in NY in 1947 and in Vermont in 1974. 40 years of hunter education, plus the invention and use of hunter orange has changed things dramatically. Hunting related shootings with injury are rare, our hunters are safe and getting safer.
Here is some preliminary data from Ohio. They like Vermont have no minimum age for people to take hunter education and if they pass can buy a hunting license. four years ago they passed a similar law to H243 allowing people to try hunting with a mentor prior to taking hunter education. Here is what Steve Gray, former Director of the Ohio Fish and Wildlife Department told me about the program:

Eric-The before and after data [before the mentored hunting law passed and after it passed] is being put together at this time and should be available in 2 or 3 weeks. This will be an in-depth review of recruitment.Upon initial review it looks like the results after 3 seasons are very good. I will get it to you as soon as it is available. The safety figures are available now. Not in Ohio or in any of the other states with a mentored hunting program has anyone in this program been involved in a fatality. In Ohio,after 3 full seasons, no mentored hunter has been involved in any incident fatal or non-fatal. The report is being finished and I should get it to you in a timely manner.This will be a very fresh report.

This type legislation is being supported by the National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sport Foundation, US Sportsman's Alliance, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, and the International Hunter Education Association. Mentored hunting program was also endorsed in the Future of Hunting in Vermont report as a result of 2 1/2 days work by 60 leaders in the hunting and conservation field here in Vermont in 2006 in Castleton. The VT Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs have also endorsed the concept of this bill.

I urge all of you to read the bill, and contact your local representative and ask them to support this bill and vote it into law.
I will keep everyone posted on progress thru this blog - stay tuned...

2 comments:

  1. I spoke with the folks at US Sportsman's Alliance that is tracking Families Afield legislation. They tell me that to their knowledge there has not been one hunting related shooting involving a mentored hunter or mentor in 3 years of tracking.
    People that are claiming safety is the reason for opposing this legislation are simply blind to the facts.

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