Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Good News for the Hunting Heritage – 87’000 new hunters recruited

© Othmar Vohringer

News Source: U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance

Across the country, more than 87,000 new hunters have taken to the field thanks to laws that remove barriers to youth hunting.

The new laws and regulations are the direct result of the Families Afield initiative, which was launched to help turn the tide against waning youth hunter recruitment and decreasing license sales - a key source of revenue for state wildlife agencies. The program was spearheaded by the NWTF and its partners, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance.

Together, with the support of the National Rifle Association and local sportsmen’s organizations, Families Afield is getting results. As barriers to hunting are struck down in state capitals nationwide, a new generation is discovering America’s time-honored hunting tradition. To date, 25 states have passed laws as a result of Families Afield.

In addition, a new research report from Mile Creek Communications shows that many states that have introduced apprentice license programs have shown sharp increases in youth license sales, from 10 percent to 111 percent.

"We are always looking for ways to open the door and invite new hunters in,” said Ohio Division of Wildlife Chief Dave Graham. “Our apprentice license has really allowed us to put out the welcome mat. And the best part of the project is that, just as our early research indicated, young hunters accompanied by a mentor are among the safest of all hunters.”

The apprentice license programs help new hunters learn under the watchful eye and guiding hand of licensed adult mentors. Completion of a hunter education course is still required for a new hunter to become fully licensed.

Mik Mikitik, hunter education coordinator for the Washington Division of Fish & Wildlife, added that the programs have proven to be very popular, and are expected to gain popularity among novice hunters both young and old.

“What really surprised us here in Washington is that approximately 60 percent of the hunters taking advantage of these new opportunities are over 18 years old,” said Mikitik. “So we’re seeing that all people, not just youth, are wanting to try hunting, and hopefully it’s something that they’ll enjoy for a lifetime.”

The new programs have garnered support from not only state wildlife agencies, but also lawmakers such as Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal, who expressed his support for the mentoring system.

“This is how I learned to hunt, and how my son learned to hunt, and I think most hunters agree that it is the best way to pass on the tradition,” said Gov. Freudenthal.

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Anonymous said...

I've seen this article in several places and I think this is a very godo thing. Guess it just goes to prove these sorts of programs work.

SimplyOutdoors said...

I think this is an awesome thing too. I'm glad that I live in a State that is actively participating in these programs as well.

Anything we can do to get more people involved in the outdoors is okay by me.

Adam said...

Family Afield sounds like a great program. We need more young people to discover hunting and the great outdoors, to help carry on the great tradition for future generations to come.

Marc - Editor, NYBOWHUNTER.COM said...

It's great to see these organizations making some progress. I have been pushing for NY to get their restrictive junior big game hunting requirements down and I think that it may finally happen, not as much as I would like, but its a start. I think it would be great if we had a mentor program here in NY as well. I have a lot of friends who would like to try hunting, but don't want to spend a weekend taking a course if they don't know if they will like it. It would be great if these people could be exposed to hunting before jumping right into it. I think that would help us grow the number of sports men and women in our sporting world.

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