The apprentice hunting license will allow an individual to purchase a hunting license before fulfilling the requirement of Hunter Education.
When hunting with an Apprentice License, the hunter must be accompanied by an adult mentor. Hunters are limited to purchasing three Apprentice Hunting Licenses in a lifetime. Hopefully, if a hunter has been hunting three seasons, they will be committed enough to go ahead and pass Hunter Education in order to become qualified for full hunting license purchasing privileges.
Imagine this situation. A family is gathered around the house after having just finished up Thanksgiving dinner. A football game on the television is attracting most of the attention, when one old timer mutters, "I remember when I was a kid, after Thanksgiving dinner, we'd all go rabbit hunting."
Most of the men nod, while some don't even acknowledge, but one set of eyes pop with enthusiasm. The boy, in his early teens, has always wanted to go hunting. Loving in the city though, he just hasn't ever had a chance. The old man, the coon dog that he is, sniffs out the boys' anticipation.
"Say, I've got an old 20-guage that sure could use some shooting. How about we go chase some cottontails in the field down below?"
"Sure, I mean that would be awesome," the boys excitedly replies.
"Do you have a license," the old man questions.
"Have you taken Hunter Education?"
"Well then sorry son, we can't go hunting because you can't buy a license until you've passed Hunter Education."
The boy sinks back into the couch to waste away another evening watching television. All the while wishing he could have gone hunting. Perhaps no one will ever ask him again. Perhaps he will never go hunting.
Thankfully, with the passing of the Apprentice Hunting License, this situation will never have to happen again. Similar laws, which have been passed in other states, have drawn rave reviews. Indiana DNR Fish and Wildlife Director Glen Salmon said, "We would like to thank all of the Families Afield partners and the Indiana sporting groups involved in supporting this bill. This was truly a team effort.
"We also thank Gov. Daniels and the state legislators for signing the bill and for recognizing the importance of this issue."
Hopefully the apprentice license will provide an opportunity of encouragement when talking to a newcomer about giving hunting a try. Explain to them they do not have to commit to the time of taking Hunter Education right away, because they will be under the mentorship of a proven hunter. According to Indiana DNR Director Rob Gambill, "This gives people a chance to test the waters and see if hunting is something they will like. Plus, it gives the DNR another important recruiting tool to continue growing a strong constituent base in the conservation movement."
Next year, offer to take someone hunting who has never been before. Use the apprentice license the way it is meant to be used: As a tool for establishing and gauging an interest in hunting.
Once those apprentices step into the woods and experience the enchanting enjoyment hunting provides, chances are, they'll become apart of the living tradition of hunting