Monday, March 29, 2010

VT Mentored Hunting License in the Senate

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.


  1. I've been invited to testify in the Senate Natural Resources committee by chair Ginny Lyons. They are considering setting a minimum age for apprentices. Because VT does not have a minimum age for getting a regular hunting licenses this seems discriminatory. National and VT statistics on young hunters shows they are very safe when accompanied by an attentive adult - which is exactly what H.243 requires and what our existing law for young hunters does not require. That said, our young hunters have a good safety record, most common mishaps are handling related due to inexperience and are generally minor.

  2. The bill has passed out of Natural Resources and is set for a hearing in the Senate Finance committee. They will look at the fees. This is set for Wed afternoon April 21st. It should then go for a full Senate vote. Legislature is set to adjourn in 2 weeks so lets hope it makes it!

  3. The bill passed the Senate with a few minor amendments and was concurred to by the House. It is off for the Governor's signature which should be no problem. It passed the Senate 29 to 1 with only Senator Campbell opposing.
    Congratulations to Rep Steve Adams for introducing the bill and championing it to completion. Also thanks to Frank Stanley, Steve Gray and the Folks with the Vt Wild Turkey Federation, VT Ducks Unlimited, the VT Traditions Coalition and the good folks at U.S.Sportsman's Alliance, the NRA and VT FWD. Truly a job well done!
    It will be in effect Jan 1, 2011. Time to start thinking about who you would like to introduce to hunting...

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