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Montana: Mentored Hunting Bill Scheduled to be Heard on Tuesday!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Please Contact the Members of the House Fish and Game Committee!

House Bill 382, sponsored by State Representative Robin Hamilton (D-92), originally established an apprentice hunting certificate that allows citizens of all ages to try their hand at hunting before completing a hunter education course.  Any apprentice hunter is required to be supervised in the field by a mentor who is at least 21 years-old, a licensed resident hunter and a graduate of a hunter education program. 

Despite the evidence from more than two dozen states showing that this program has a remarkable safety record, the House of Representatives amended the bill to limit the program to a single year and establish a minimum age of 14 years-old for participants.  These unjustified changes negate most of the hunter recruitment benefits generated by the program.

HB 382 is now headed to the Senate Fish and Game Committee for a hearing on Tuesday, March 17 at 3 p.m. in Room 422.  If you are unable to attend the hearing, please contact members of the committee to let them know that the bill must be amended to make the program effective.  Please request that the minimum age for participation be decreased to 10 years-old (parents know better than the state as to when their children are responsible enough to participate) and that program eligibility be extended to two years to ensure that apprentice hunters have a chance to get a representative sample of the true hunting experience.

Hunter recruitment is critical to the long term preservation of our hunting heritage.  Hunter numbers are declining and the radical anti-hunting organizations like the Humane Society of the United States will take advantage if given the opportunity.  While Montana is the nation’s leader in hunter participation, it is currently in the bottom third of all states with regard to hunter recruitment.  For every 100 hunters who permanently quit hunting, only 56 new hunters replace them.  This slide must be reversed and an amended version of HB 382 will help tremendously in this effort.

An apprentice hunting program allows citizens a “try it before they buy it” opportunity.  Ultimately, they will become “hooked on hunting” and want to complete a hunter education course in order to hunt on their own.  In the end, more citizens will complete hunter education and fully join the hunter ranks as a result.

Please take a stand for the future of hunting in Montana!  Contact the members of the Senate Fish and Game Committee today and respectfully ask them to support HB 382 along with two amendments – one decreasing the minimum participant age to 10 years-old and the other making program eligibility two years.  You may call (406) 444-4800 to leave a message for your State Senator and for the Senate Fish and Game Committee.  You may also use the “online message form” located here.  When contacting legislators, it is important that you be as respectful and courteous as possible.  If you don’t know who your legislator is, please click here.  The Senate Fish and Game Committee roster can be found below.

State Senator Gregory Barkus (R-4), Chair
State Senator John Brenden (R), Vice Chair
State Senator Joe Balyeat (R)
State Senator Debby Barrett (R)
State Senator Steve Gallus (D)
State Senator Larry Jent (D)
State Senator Trudi Schmidt (D)
State Senator Jim Shockley (R)
State Senator Joseph Tropila (D)

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