February/March Sportsmen's Monthly 2014 | Page 4

FAMILIES AFIELD Western States Advance Legislation A trio of Western states are moving forward with bills to create, expand, or strengthen apprentice hunting programs. Apprentice hunting, a staple of the Families Afield initiative, allows a new hunter to try hunting under the watchful eye of an experienced mentor prior to completing hunter education. Wyoming: The Wyoming State Senate passed Senate Bill 38, expanding the state’s current one-year apprentice hunter program to allow new hunters multiple opportunities to participate. The bill also includes a provision to allow a parent to supervise more than one of their children at a time under the program. The bill passed out of Committee and is now pending before the full House of Representatives. Kansas: The Kansas Senate kicked off hearings in late February on a similar effort—Senate Bill 357—to expand the state’s Hunter Education deferral program. The Senate Natural Resources Committee heard supporting testimony from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism on SB 357. In late February, the Committee passed the bill sending it to the full Senate where a vote is pending. “Expanding these programs to allow for multiple year participation gives new hunters additional opportunities to become hooked on our sport,” said Adam Wright, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) associate director of state services. “The data shows that once we hook them, they transition to Hunter Education and become fully licensed hunters.” Utah: Utah moved one step closer to establishing an apprentice hunting program in the state. The State Senate unanimously voted to pass Senate Bill 165 creating the Trial Hunting Permit. This program utilizes the “try-beforeyou-buy” concept that is a key component of the Families Afield program. The bill passed out of Committee and is now 4 pending before the full House of Representatives. “Apprentice hunting is not only a great recruitment tool, but also incredibly safe,” said Wright. “These programs are introducing the next generation of American hunters to our sport and we’re pleased to see these bills moving forward.” Families Afield was launched in 2005 by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Wild Turkey Federation and USSA. Along with the support of the NRA and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Families Afield has passed bills in 35 states, paving the way for more than 1 million new hunters to join our ranks. Sportsmen’s Monthly February/March 2014