From Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation
-- Wouldn't it be great to take home that new pickup truck or big-screen TV and try it out for two years before you plunked down your hard-earned cash to own it? That's the idea behind the 'try before you buy' Apprentice Hunting License legislation that just passed in the Virginia Assembly.
Virginia, like most states, has experienced a downward trend in the number of hunters. The Apprentice Hunting License legislation creates a mechanism to allow newcomers to experience the outdoors and participate in the traditions of hunting prior to taking the 10-hour Hunter Education Course.
Parents, family members and adult mentors could expose any new hunters to the great outdoors on a trial basis. The hope is that they will enjoy and embrace the tradition and become actively involved. The next step would be to take the Education course and join the ranks as a fully licensed hunter.
Virginia will become the thirteenth state to enact an apprentice license program. Virginia Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus co-chair, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter introduced the apprentice hunting license bill HB1175 in the House of Delegates which passed the House on Monday with a vote of 98-0.
The Senate bill, SB617, was introduced by Sen. Kenneth Stolle and passed the Virginia State Senate unanimously on Jan. 24. The two legislative bodies will work out any differences between the bills before sending it to Gov. Tim Kaine.
The apprentice license legislation is the key issue for the Virginia Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus this session and has seen unanimous support by caucus members.
The Virginia Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus was formed in 2004 and is comprised of legislators that defend, protect and promote hunting and fishing. The current Co-Chairs of the caucus are Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, Delegate James Shuler, Senator Creigh Deeds and Senator Emmett Hanger.
Once the bill is signed into law by Gov. Kaine, the law would allow the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) to offer apprentice licenses to state residents for $10 without completing a Hunter Education Class. The license is valid for two years and apprentice hunters under the program can only go afield when accompanied by a licensed hunter at least 18 years of age.
To learn more about how Virginia's 857,000 sportsmen spend $3.6 million per day, visit www.sportsmenslink.org for the full report.