MUCC Celebrates Approval of Mentored Youth Hunting Program
On March 1, 2011, Michigan United Conservation Clubs organized a sportsmen’s rally at the Capitol in Lansing. The primary topic of conversation was passage of the MUCC-led Hunter Heritage legislation that would create a mentored youth hunting program and eliminate Michigan’s arbitrary minimum hunting age.
Exactly one year to the day after that rally, the Mentored Youth Hunting program will take effect.
Thursday, the Michigan Natural Resources Commission approved the new mentored youth hunting program and a new Mentored Youth Hunting license will go on sale March 1, 2012.
The Mentored Youth Hunting program includes the following guidelines:
• An adult mentor must be at least 21 years old, have previous hunting experience and possess a valid Michigan hunting license.
• 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.
The $7.50 Mentored Youth Hunting license 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.
“This is an historic event in the history of Michigan’s hunting heritage,” said Erin McDonough, Executive Director of MUCC. “What started as an idea by a single MUCC member grew into a legislative package that has now become law. The statistics are overwhelmingly in support of lower minimum hunting ages and mentored programs. Michigan was at the bottom of the list in terms of hunter recruitment. With this new program, that will change.”
The Hunter Heritage legislation, which led to the creation of the Mentored Youth Hunting program and license, began when MUCC member Rob Miller of Byron Center, chair of MUCC’s Wildlife Committee, brought a resolution to MUCC’s 2010 annual convention asking that MUCC work to establish such a program.
The resolution was adopted and MUCC went to work on the issue. Senator Joe Hune (R-Hamburg) and Representative Peter Pettalia (R-Presque Isle) stepped up to sponsor the package of bills. The legislation was passed and signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder in the summer of 2011 after months of work and input from a number of local and statewide sportsmen and habitat organizations, including those who submitted testimony during the legislative and subsequent NRC process:
• Michigan United Conservation Clubs
• U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance
• Pheasants Forever
• National Wild Turkey Federation
• Ducks Unlimited
• Michigan Hunting Dog Federation
• Quality Deer Management Association – Michigan Chapter
• Michigan Gun Owners
• Michigan Bear Hunters Association
• Michigan Trappers and Predator Callers Association
• Michigan Association of Conservation Districts
• Montmorency County Conservation Club
• Michigan Conservation Foundation
• Michigan Duck Hunters Association
• Michigan Farm Bureau
• Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
With that process complete, a workgroup was formed to iron out the details of the program before the package was sent to the NRC for approval.