September 20, 2020

Michigan Governor Signs Bill To Lower Hunting Age

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It seems that Michigan is in the dark ages when it comes to bringing down the legal hunting age for youngsters. A new bill has been signed by Governor Jennifer Granholm that will lower the age of hunting big game from 14 to 12, while accompanied by a licensed mentor AND they can only hunt on private property. The same bill lowers the minimum age for hunting small game from 12 to 10.

I applaud the efforts of the Michigan legislature, governor and all those involved to get this bill passed but in all honesty why has it taken so long and why is the minimum age being lowered to only 12 years? Why can these young apprentices only hunt on private property?

Many states across America have no age limit at all and several are at 10 and 8 for big or small game. Some states have instituted mentor programs that will allow kids of a very young age to work with a licensed adult to learn the basics of hunting. Advocates for lowering the age say that the younger they learn, especially today with all the other “distractions” the more likely they are to take up the sport. Studies have also shown that in states where there is no minimum age requirement, hunting accidents are fewer than states with retrictions.

It seems that the only explainable reason why states like Michigan have maintained a high minimum age is out of ignorance and fear. Someone is convincing them that putting kids in the woods under adult supervision at an age to be determined by a parent is dangerous.

Hunting is a great family activity and is a tool to teach our youngsters many things. It’s about time Michigan began a move to promote a lifelong family activity. Now continue with the program and get the age lowered even further.

Also included in the bills signed by Governor Granholm is one that will allow a first-time hunter to bypass the required hunter safety course to give hunting a try. The temporary apprentice license allows a hunter to go with experienced mentors to first see if they want to take up the sport.

Hunters for a long time have voiced concern that a required hunter safety course is a stumbling block for new hunters who aren’t sure they will like it. Officials and the vast majority of hunters feel that hunter education has been a tremendous tool in making the woods safer. What they don’t like about it is to get the course taken takes planning and often by the time someone decides that maybe they want to give hunting a try, they can’t get a course. Interest wanes and sometimes never returns.

Hopefully this new bill coupled with the lowering of the age will increase the number of new hunters. Although the total number of hunters in Michigan has remained stable, because of rising population, the percentage of hunters compared to population has dropped.

Tom Remington

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