Michigan’s legislature has passed Families Afield legislation that would allow new youth to head afield under the guidance of an experienced adult mentor.

Senate Bill 207, sponsored by Senator Joe Hune (R- Hamburg Township) and House Bill 4371, sponsored by Representative Peter Pettalia (R- Presque Isle), have been sent on to Governor Rick Snyder. Together, the bills eliminate the state’s arbitrarily-set, minimum hunting age and create a new mentored youth hunting program.

Current state law prohibits youth under the age of 10 from hunting, even when under the supervision of a mentoring adult. Under this new legislation, these youth will now be able to experience hunting under a program administered by the state’s Natural Resources Commission. These new youth hunters in the program will be permitted to hunt while under the supervision of an experienced adult mentor.

“We sincerely thank Senator Hune and Representative Pettalia for recognizing the need for Michigan to take this major step forward for youth hunting recruitment and participation in Michigan,” said Jeremy Rine, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance associate director of state services. “If signed by the Governor, the legislation will allow parents to decide when their children are old enough to hunt under the guidance of an experienced adult mentor.”

Michigan is in the minority of states that arbitrarily limit when a youth may begin hunting.

“This legislation aims to increase youth involvement in hunting by allowing young hunters to safely experience outdoor hunting traditions under the supervision of an experienced mentor,” said Senator Joe Hune. “The new Mentored Youth Hunting Program will allow Michigan youngsters to experience our state’s great hunting heritage while learning safe hunting practices from an adult mentor.”

USSA worked with the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) in developing and advocating for Senate Bill 207 and House Bill 4371.

“MUCC would like to personally thank Rep. Pettalia and Sen. Hune for their willingness to develop a positive solution to improve youth hunting safety and ethics,” said MUCC Executive Director Erin McDonough. “The Hunter Heritage bill is long awaited by Michigan families who cherish our state’s great outdoor traditions.”

If signed by Governor Snyder, the legislation would be Michigan’s second Families Afield bill. In 2006, Michigan passed Families Afield legislation that created an apprentice hunting license for those 10 and older while lowering the state’s minimum hunting age requirements for both big and small game.

The Families Afield initiative was established by the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the National Wild Turkey Federation to bring a new generation of sportsmen to the field. Along with the National Rifle Association and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the Families Afield coalition has worked to pass measures in 32 states with more than 600,000 apprentice or mentored hunting licenses sold since the program’s inception.

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