Wisconsin Apprentice Hunting Bill Takes Next Step

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Legislation making it easier for sportsmen to pass their hunting heritage to the next generation cleared another hurdle today as the Wisconsin State Assembly passed it by a voice vote. Voice votes are generally used on measures deemed uncontroversial.

Senate Bill 167, sponsored by Sen. Jim Holperin (D-Conover), will allow people 10-year of age and older to hunt with an experienced mentor. The bill passed the Senate on June 9 by a 27-6 vote. The measure now awaits the signature of Governor Jim Doyle to become law.

"This is a tremendous step forward for sportsmen in Wisconsin," stated U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance president and CEO, Bud Pidgeon. "Wisconsin sportsmen should applaud the efforts of Representative Ann Hraychuck who authored an identical bill in the Assembly and shepherded this one through her chamber. We also owe thanks to Representative Scott Gunderson, a champion of this legislation for several years, and, of course, Sen. Holperin and Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker who made this issue a priority."

Similar laws have been enacted in 28 states since 2005 as part of a program called Families Afield, which was launched by the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the U. S. Sportsmen's Alliance (USSA).

"Since the beginning of Families Afield, over 283,000 new hunters have been introduced to the field with a safety rate that even exceeds that of regular hunters," said George Thornton, CEO of the NWTF. "Wisconsin has been a priority for our volunteers and we could not be more pleased at the outcome today in the Assembly."

Steve Sanetti, NSSF president and CEO added, "The job is not finished. It is essential that sportsmen and women contact Gov. Doyle to make sure that he recognizes the importance of SB 167 for preserving the outdoor heritage in Wisconsin and signs the bill when it lands on his desk."

The effort to pass an apprentice hunting bill is supported by the Hunters Rights Coalition Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, Wisconsin State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Wisconsin chapters of Safari Club International, Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.

The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance is a national association of sportsmen and sportsmen's organizations that protects the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers in the courts, legislatures, at the ballot, in Congress and through public education programs. For more information about the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and its work, call (614) 888-4868 or visit the website, www.ussportsmen.org.