Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law the Hunter Heritage Act, which authorizes a hunting license to be issued to a child under 10-years-old and allows the holder to hunt deer, turkey, and small game; trap fur-bearers; and fish for all species.
However, in order for these children to scurry the wilderness with their guns looking for game, they first have to participate in the Mentored Youth Hunting Program that is in the process of being established by the state’s Natural Resources Commission (NRC).
The NRC and the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are looking for the public’s input as they begin developing the program.
According to the new law, each child must have a mentor who is at least 21-years-old and who possesses a valid license to hunt, other than an apprentice license, before engaging in the program. Furthermore, an individual cannot be a mentor without presenting proof of previous hunting experience in the form of a previous hunting license or a certification of completion of training in hunter safety issued by Michigan, another state, a Canadian province, or another country.
While a minor under 10 could obtain a mentored hunting license, he or she could not hunt game under that license unless he or she complies with all the requirements established by the NRC.
The NRC is currently trying to determine what those requirements should be.
“We’re really hoping people participate,” said DNR Spokesperson Mary Dettloff. “Some of the issues the committee is working through require public input. One of the things we are really interested in is what are the expectations should be of the mentor. The law doesn’t clearly spell that out so we are looking for the public’s thoughts on that.”
The survey can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/s/VMY6KGT and will be available through Sept. 15.
“I strongly encourage sportsmen and women, parents and other interested members of the public to fill out the survey, which only takes about 10 minutes,” said NRC Commissioner John Matonich of Davison, who chairs the workgroup. “The workgroup is on a tight timeframe to make recommendations to the NRC so we can be ready to roll out this program for the 2012 hunting season. Public input is invaluable to our recommendation process.”
The workgroup is hoping to report its recommendations to the NRC at its November meeting.