Families Afield Expansion Introduced in Wisconsin

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Identical bills have been introduced in the Wisconsin State Assembly and Senate that will greatly help sportsmen and women pass their hunting heritage to the next generation. Assembly Bill 411, sponsored by Assemblyman Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc), and Senate Bill 301, sponsored by Sen. Terry Moulton (R-Chippewa Falls), builds on the previous success of mentored hunting by allowing parents to decide at what age their sons and daughters are ready to begin hunting.

Current law allows a newcomer ages 10 and older to try hunting prior to completion of hunter education, as long as they are under the control of an experienced mentor. This concept, called “try before you buy,” is the cornerstone of Families Afield, a program launched by the Sportsmen’s Alliance, National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the National Wild Turkey Federation and since joined by the National Rifle Association and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. The program has resulted in 1.5 million apprentice hunting license sales.

AB 411 and SB 301 removes the 10-year-old age restriction, and permits parents to make the decision about when their children are ready to being hunting. This change would bring Wisconsin in line with the 40 other states that allow parents to make this decision. Data from mentored hunting states dating back to 2007 have shown that mentored hunters are five times safer than regularly licensed hunters.

The two bills also defer to parents the decision about whether or not to allow both a mentored hunter and a mentor to carry a firearm or bow. This change also brings Wisconsin up to date, as only four states have a one-gun restriction. Both bills are pending in their respective chambers’ Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage Committee.

“Wisconsin’s mentored hunting program has proven to be a successful recruitment tool for new hunters in the state,” said Adam Wright, associate director of state services for Sportsmen’s Alliance. “These improvements will result in even better recruitment, while maintaining the incredible safety record of mentored hunting.”

AB 411 and SB 301 is supported in Wisconsin by the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, Wisconsin Chapters of Safari Club International and the Wisconsin Bowhunters Association. The program is widely viewed as one of the most successful recruitment tools in the United States.

About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research.  Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: Online, FacebookTwitter and Instagram.