Kansas Now Has Hunter Apprentice License

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Kansas has passed a law that will create an apprentice hunting license for older youth and adults. On April 18, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signed SB 192, a revision of Kansas hunter education requirement that will allow the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) to establish an apprentice hunting license. The apprentice hunting license will allow persons 16 years and older who have not already taken a hunter education course to hunt only through the calendar year in which it is purchased. The apprentice must be accompanied by a licensed adult age 18 or older.

"The apprentice hunting license is intended to recruit new hunters," says KDWP statewide Hunter Education Program coordinator Wayne Doyle. "It will allow hunters to try hunting before they invest in the time required to take a hunter education course. If they enjoy their experience and want to hunt the following season, they must take hunter education.

"This goes back to the recruitment and retention program that [former KDWP secretary] Steve Williams started," Doyle continues. "We thought that this was one of the efforts needed to remove barriers to hunting, and it's been very successful in other states, including Texas. We modeled our program on theirs."

The new Kansas law received strong support from the National Rifle Association's Safety and Education Program. Data from states that have implemented such initiatives reveal that apprentice hunting license programs brought nearly 34,000 new hunters, both children and adults, to the field in 2006, and none of these license holders was involved in an accident. Lawmakers in California, Maine, Nebraska, and Oregon are considering similar legislation.

SB 192 also eliminates the requirement for bowhunter education for youngsters 14 and younger.