On March 23, Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed legislation eliminating the minimum-age restrictions for South Dakota’s mentored hunting law. Senate Bill 137, sponsored by Sen. Jason E. Frerichs (D- Wilmont), passed the Senate with a vote of 30-4 on Feb. 20 and passed the House by a vote of 45-20 on March 5.
SB 137 lets new hunters ages 10 and under try hunting in a safe and controlled environment prior to the completion of a hunter education class. Under current law, mentored hunting was only available for young people between the ages of 10 and 16. Senate Bill 137 now allows for parents to determine the age at which their kids are ready to begin hunting.
Neighboring Wisconsin eliminated the 10-year-old minimum this past year. In Pennsylvania, those hunters under the age of 10 account for as much as 45 percent of all mentored hunters. Trusting parents to make these decisions has paid off in both states, which lead the nation in mentored licenses sold each year. Mentored hunters continue to be the safest hunters in the woods; more than fives times safer than regularly licensed hunters.
The Sportsmen’s Alliance, and the other Families Afield partners (National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, National Rifle Association and Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation), have successfully championed mentored or apprentice hunting in 40 states since the Families Afield program was launched in 2005. The result has been more than 1.9 million licenses sold, many to suburban and urban people, as well as women and girls.
“We would like to thank Sen. Frerichs for his hard work in sponsoring legislation that will allow parents to decide when their child is ready to try hunting,” said Luke Houghton, associate director of state services for Sportsmen’s Alliance.
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, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.