Ducks Unlimited is supporting youth hunting bills as they come to bear in state capitals across the nation. Most recently, DU state chairmen in New Jersey and West Virginia sent letters of support to their legislators.
"DU's staff and volunteers continue to lead the way in hunter recruitment and retention," said Bernie Marczyk, DU director of conservation programs. "These licenses are stepping stones that allow experienced hunters to mentor our youth on the great traditions of hunting. These pieces of legislation will provide a safe and educational experience for the apprentice hunter."
West Virginians already enjoy a mentored license program, and Senate Bill 478, sponsored by state Sen. John Unger, will expand the state's mentoring opportunities. Current West Virginia law allows youth under the age of 15 to hunt prior to completion of a hunter education course if they are accompanied by a licensed adult. The proposed bill would expand this opportunity to allow all ages to engage in hunting while accompanied by a mentor.
In New Jersey, state Sen. Bob Smith introduced Senate Bill 1083 to establish a law that would allow youth ages 10 and older, and adults, to hunt under an apprentice hunting license.
"Sometimes we think only about kids as our next hunters," Marczyk added. "The New Jersey bill acknowledges that non-hunters of all ages need a safe mentor situation in which to try out the sport. More people hunting means more people involved in conservation, and that's good for everyone."