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Ohio Senate Committee Approves Legislation

Legislation designed to improve hunter recruitment rates in Ohio is now on its way to the governor’s desk after unanimously passing through the Senate on Tuesday.
The Ohio Senate voted 33-0 in favor of HB 296, a bill that creates an apprentice hunting license. The license will allow qualified, adult hunters to introduce others to hunting prior to completing a hunter education course.

While in the field, the apprentice hunter would be in close proximity to the adult mentor at all times. Before the young hunter could become fully licensed, they would be required to complete a hunter education course.

The bill now heads to Gov. Bob Taft for his signature.

“Today's youth are tomorrow's conservationists and if we don't instill in them the love of the outdoors at an early age, the hunting and conservation tradition could be lost,” said Rob Keck, CEO of the National Wild Turkey Federation. “We need to hook them on hunting at an early age, so they become appreciative of the hunting tradition. This will also increase hunter retention and ensure the future of conservation remains strong.”

House Bill 296 is part of the Families Afield program introduced by the NWTF, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Other states are also moving forward to remove youth hunting barriers. In Pennsylvania, Gov. Edward G. Rendell signed a bill to create a mentored youth hunting program. In Wisconsin, Assembly Bill 586, which creates an apprentice hunting license, was approved by the Senate Natural Resources and Transportation Committee, 4-1.

“The progress of Families Afield in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin is confirmation that these are bills the people want to pass,” said Rob Sexton, vice-president of government affairs for the USSA. “The bi-partisan support Families Afield has received indicates legislators are listening to sportsmen and understand the positive impact these bills can have for all citizens of these states.”

A report written by Silvertip Productions, USSA and Southwick Associates Inc., shows youth hunters are the safest hunters in the woods when accompanied by an adult. The report was funded by the NSSF and the NWTF.

The research compelled the three organizations to launch Families Afield, a program designed to work with hunters and elected officials about the impact of high age restrictions.

The NWTF has led the charge in promoting youth hunting opportunities and has teamed up with the USSA and NSSF to remove youth hunting barriers across the nation.

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