Today, the state Senate Natural Resources Committee passed Senate Bill 478, which would create an apprentice hunting license that is available to West Virginia residents and non-residents. Two amendments were added in committee, the first being that the legislation, if passed, would take effect in 2013. The second amendment would make it so that hunters who have purchased a regular (non-apprentice) hunting license previously, either in West Virginia or another state, would not be eligible to purchase the West Virginia apprentice hunting license.
The apprentice licenses established pursuant to SB 478, introduced by state Senator John Unger (D-16), are similar to current youth hunting licenses. The goal of SB 478 is to encourage apprentice hunters to go afield while 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 that they are simply trying out. 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, which has largely been the case in the states that have similar programs. 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 supervised, novice 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 on this important legislation and its efforts to sustain and enhance the time-honored tradition of hunting are appreciated.
Please continue to check your e-mail and www.NRAILA.org for more updates on SB 478.