Final Push needed to pass H.243
A strengthened Mentored Hunting bill. H 243, has passed the House and is now in the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy. We have a window of opportunity to get this important recruitment and retention legislation passed this year, but our Senators need to know that we want them to take action.
Some folks, including the VT Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, are concerned about this bill for safety reasons. They reason that parents and adult mentors can't be trusted to demonstrate and teach folks who what to try hunting how to do it safely. They contend that only certified hunter education instructors can do this. As a HE instructor and the former HE Training Coordinator in VT, I respectfully disagree. 30 years ago I would say they were mostly right, but today with over 80% of our hunters having taken hunter education and our hunting related shootings at all time lows, I find this argument insulting to VT hunters. Admittedly, we still have some bad actors out there that are not safe. But they are not the people that will give up their time and share their bag limits to mentor a new hunter. These are the folks that look for short cuts and violate fair chase, game laws and safety practices.
The evidence from other states who have enacted similar legislation is compelling. Wisconsin's program started last fall. They sold 70,000 mentor licenses and had no accidents - zero. Nationally the figure is the same, mentored hunters are the safest group of hunters by far.
Call to action - If you want to help Vermont's efforts to build support for hunting and recruit new hunters, please contact your local Senator and tell them you support H. 243. Then contact a member or two from the Senate Natural Resources committee and urge them to take positive action on this legislation.
Groups supporting this bill include, Ducks Unlimited, US Sportsman's Alliance, NRA, National Wild Turkey Federation and the VT Traditions Coalition.
The amended bill can be found at the Legislative tracking site.