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Michigan NRC Approves Mentored Youth Hunting Program for 2012


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NRC Approves Mentored Youth Hunting Program for 2012

Contact: Dan Eichinger, 517-373-9337 or Ed Golder, 517-335-3014

Agency: Natural Resources

Feb. 10, 2012

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) has approved a new program aimed at introducing children under the age of 10 to hunting and fishing. The Mentored Youth Hunting program will start with the 2012 season, with licenses on sale starting March 1.

"The Department is fully supportive of this new program that will help introduce children to the sport of hunting, ensuring that we successfully pass along Michigan's rich outdoor traditions," said Rodney Stokes, director of the Department of Natural Resources. "We wish to thank our many conservation partners who helped develop this program with the NRC, providing a new opportunity for us to interest Michigan's youth in hunting and fishing."

The $7.50 Mentored Youth Hunting license will be a "package" license that includes small game, spring and fall turkey (private or public land), two deer tags (any deer), a furbearer trapping permit and an all-species fishing license. An adult mentor must be at least 21 years old, have previous hunting experience and possess a valid Michigan hunting license. Another provision of the law allows 10-year-olds to hunt big game on private land with a firearm, which was implemented starting with the 2011 deer season.

The regulations approved by the NRC for the Mentored Youth Hunting program include:

No limit on the number of youth a mentor can have with him or her in the field, leaving it at the discretion of the mentor.

A limit of two hunting devices ? bow, crossbow or firearm ? per mentor.

The youth in possession of a hunting device and engaged in the act of hunting must be within arm's length of the mentor.

The mentor shall ensure that the hunting device is sized appropriately to fit the physical abilities of the youth to ensure safe and responsible handling.

The mentor will be held responsible for the youth's actions.

The issued deer tags under the Mentored Youth Hunting license can be used for either sex (antlered or antlerless), are not subject to antler point restriction regulations in certain parts of the state and can only be used on private land, consistent with current state law.

Voluntary mentor guidelines have been developed by the DNR, and are available at www.michigan.gov/mentoredhunting, along with other information about the program.

A workgroup consisting of representatives of several conservation organizations, including three youth representatives, developed recommendations for the regulations, which were adopted by the NRC. Organizations serving on the workgroup included the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Pheasants Forever, the Michigan Trappers and Predator Callers Association, Ducks Unlimited and the Michigan Hunter Safety Education Instructor Association.

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Here is a DNR Q&A on the new regs:

Frequently Asked Questions About the Mentored Youth Hunting Program

What does the new law do?

The law allows youths under the age of 10 to hunt with a mentor. Mentored youths will be required to obtain a mentored youth hunting license and hunt in conjunction with the Mentored Youth Hunting program.

When does the program begin?

The program begins March 1, 2012, and mentored youth hunters will be able to participate in the spring turkey hunt.

What are the regulations for this program?

Mentored youths must be accompanied by an adult at least 21 years old, with hunting experience and in possession of a valid Michigan hunting license. The mentor is limited to two hunting devices (firearm, bow or crossbow) in the field while mentoring a youth hunter. When the youth is engaged in the act of hunting, he or she must be within arm's length of the mentor. The mentor will be held responsible for all actions of the mentored youth hunter while in the field.

How many youth hunters can I mentor in the field?

The regulations and law do not put a limit on the number of children a mentor may take in the field with him or her. However, the DNR strongly suggests you limit the number of children to one or two to ensure a quality and enjoyable time for your mentored youth hunter.

How much will a mentored youth hunt license cost?

The cost for a mentored youth license is $7.50. The fee was established in the legislation that created the license. Parents or legal guardians will also need to purchase a $1 DNR Sportcard for the youth hunter. The Sportcard gives the youth a unique identifying number in the DNR's license sales system.

What hunting privileges are provided under this license?

Resident small game, two deer tags (any deer), spring and fall turkey (for any public or private lands), all-species fishing, and resident fur harvesters. If filled with a firearm, deer tags may only be used on private land, which is consistent with current state law for youth hunters ages 10-13.

If my child is nine on March 1, but will turn 10 later in the year, is he or she still eligible for the Mentored Youth Hunting program?

Yes, if a nine-year-old child possesses a mentored youth hunting license and turns 10 during the license year (March 1 of current year through March 31 of following year), the mentored youth hunting license will remain valid until the end of the license year.

Does my child under 10 need hunter safety classes first?

There is no requirement in the Mentored Youth Hunting program that the youth hunter take a hunter safety course first. However, the DNR strongly encourages that they do. See a list of hunter safety courses by county.

Is it safe to take children under 10 hunting?

The intent of the law is to let parents and guardians, not the government, decide when a child is ready to hunt. Statistically speaking, youth hunters are the safest hunters in the woods because of the direct adult supervision they receive.

Does my mentored youth hunter have to apply for a turkey management unit hunt?

No, a mentored youth hunter can hunt in any turkey management unit or on public land.

Can the deer tags for a mentored youth hunter be used on public land?

Deer tags can be used on private land only with a firearm, consistent with current state law for youth hunters ages 10-13; however, archery equipment may be used on public or private land.

What is the apprentice license?

The apprentice license is for anyone 10 years of age and older who has not received hunter safety certification. An individual may hunt with an apprentice license for two license years. For apprentices between ages 10-16, the accompanying hunter must be the apprentice's parent, guardian, or someone designated by the parent or guardian.

What license do I purchase once I receive my hunter safety certification?

If you are 10 years of age or older with hunter safety certification, you can purchase regular hunting licenses.

What if my child just wants to fish? Does he or she need a mentored youth license?

No, if your child just wants to fish, he or she can fish in Michigan without a license until they are 17. However, the DNR does sell a voluntary $2 Youth Fishing License that supports fish habitat management in Michigan.

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Wish I was as enthused about this as you are Ed. Personally I don't think it was a smart decision on the part of our NRC.

Bash me if you all want to. Its just my opinion. All I can say is, my kids didn't need to carry a gun or make a kill before they were 10yrs old to be able to go fishing and hunting or otherwise to be "mentored" by me.

Honestly I think this is just amount the DNR making more money. I just hope no one gets hurt by it in the long run. But I don't think the DNR really cares. It's just about money. Nothing else.

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It's about recruitment, which is dropping rapidly.

That said, my daughter will be 9 this spring, has a 20 single youth and a .22 youth model, can set a spread and stubble a blind. However, she will not be shooting yet this year, as she's not ready to kill something with a gun. Fishing is OK with her, but shooting something seems to bother her a little, and I respect that.

That said, as long as she's willing to sit in a blind with me, that's all I ask.

I know this, I have friends that are going to be all gung-ho about this, and seeing how their kids act, it'll be a cold day in hell before I go near them if they are armed. No doesn't seem to mean no about small stuff; I certainly hope they learn to listen before they are swinging a shot gun around.

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