On Wednesday, February 1, West Virginia Senator John Unger (D-16) introduced Senate Bill 478, which would create an apprentice hunting license for all residents and non-residents of West Virginia. SB 478 is similar to current youth hunting licenses, as its goal is to place new hunters afield under the supervision of an adult eighteen years of age or older who possesses a valid West Virginia hunting license. This would allow the “apprentice” to be introduced to hunting without having to take the otherwise required hunter education course.
Lengthy hunter education requirements often discourage potential hunters from going afield because they are unwilling to dedicate the necessary time to complete the course in order to pursue an activity they are unsure whether they like. The apprentice license program will allow them to become hooked on hunting while under the supervision of a mentor. Eventually, the goal is for these apprentices to complete a hunter education course so they can hunt on their own. Apprentice hunting license programs throughout the country have issued more than 600,000 licenses to date and these hunters have proven to be safer than all other classes of hunters in what is already one of the safest recreational activities in America.
This license would allow “first-time hunters” to go afield for three hunting seasons, within any five consecutive year window of time without having to take a required hunter education course. The NRA is working closely with the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources in this effort and we greatly appreciate their support of continuing the time-honored tradition of hunting.
SB 478 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, but a hearing has not yet been scheduled. Please continue to monitor www.NRAILA.org and your e-mail inbox for updates on SB 478.