The current hunter safety license requirement employed by a growing number of states has several flaws, but the most noticeable is age discrimination. In Idaho, for instance, if you were born after 1975 you must present proof of passing a hunter ed. class. So essentially an Iowa farm boy born after 1975, who has been hunting and fishing his whole life must spend a weekend in school. (Ed. note: Don't get me wrong, I think hunter safety classes are a great check and should be required of everyone.) Meanwhile the president of the Humane Society, who has about as much experience with hunting as I do with Star Trek conventions, could saunter up to the counter at a sporting goods store and buy a license, no questions asked. Who would you rather have in the woods: the twentysomething country boy, or an older fella with no clue?
And all of this leads to the week's news. Ohio figured out a way to get greenhorns into a deer stand without requiring the hunter safety certificate up front. How? With a new apprentice license program. The way it works is first-time sportsmen, accompanied by a fully-licensed hunter, may "test" the sport out. If they enjoy it, then they take the class and become certified. This is a great way to hurdle a block that keeps many guys out of the wild.
In a perfect world, Ohio will develop a mentor system along with this new program. Hunters could volunteer to take newbies afield maybe in exchange for a free license.
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