Buckeye Firearms Assoc. attends signing ceremony for HB296

Ohio becomes the 2nd state in the nation to adopt the Families Afield Apprentice Hunting License

Governor Taft signed HB296, the Apprentice Hunting and Trapping License Bill, on Tuesday, February 14, sealing a victory for Ohio sportsmen in the fight to assure the future of hunting in the Buckeye State.

Representative Steve Buehrer’s HB296, part of the Families Afield program introduced by the US Sportsmen Alliance (USSA), National Wild Turkey Federation and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, was endorsed by the Buckeye Firearms Association. The law is designed to make it easier to introduce new hunters and trappers into the sports. It delays the requirements to complete the hunter or trapper education course by providing for a new hunter or trapper (the apprentice) to participate in the sport under the immediate direction of a mentor.

The bill was passed overwhelmingly by both chambers of the General Assembly before earning the governor's signature.

Buckeye Firearms Association Region Leader and 2005 USSA Patriot Award-winner Larry S. Moore notes that "Ohio has been a leader in youth hunting opportunities with reduced license fees and special early youth seasons. The Apprentice Hunting and Trapping License law is another tool that enables us to share our outdoor heritage with the next generation. It will be easier to introduce new hunters by postponing the requirement for hunter education. Once a new hunter or trapper has a positive experience, I am hopeful they will quickly attend a hunter education class. Hunter education is an important tool but it is the adult mentors who take the young people hunting who are the real teachers. Representative Buehrer deserves our thanks for championing this legislation."

Moore, who provided proponent testimony in both the House and Senate, was invited to attend the signing ceremony at the governor’s Statehouse office.

"It is a thrill to be part of the legislative process from beginning to end," Moore said. "I had reviewed this legislation at the request of the Division of Wildlife before Rep. Steve Buehrer introduced it. Following the legislation through the General Assembly and offering proponent testimony was a lot of fun."

"Being present when the Governor signed the legislation was a special thrill," Moore continued. "Not everyone gets that opportunity and I was honored to be present.”

Moore is a lifelong hunter and an active hunter education instructor. His expertise in helping this great idea become law will benefit many of the 300,000 plus Ohio hunters that will take to the field this year. For the apprentices, this will allow them to experience, first-hand, important and memorable lessons about life, nature, and conservation.

“It is an exciting day for Ohio sportsmen," said Representative Buehrer. "This law will open up opportunities for existing hunters and trappers to reach out in their community to young people, neighbors and friends to bring them into this sport, which is so important to Ohio. I am glad the Governor has signed the bill today. It will be in place this fall for the start of the new hunting season. It is an exciting time for sportsmen to reach out and promote the sports we all love in Ohio."

Steve Gray, Chief of the Division of Wildlife, added, "We are very happy that the bill passed. We have been looking forward to this for a number of years. David Wilson, who is retired now as our outdoor skills supervisor, actually started promoting this idea four or five years ago. We think the time is right for it. We have a need to recruit more hunters and trappers in Ohio. We are very pleased with the support the bill received in the legislature. There was really no opposition. That speaks highly for how hunting and trapping is valued in Ohio."

"Our challenge now, as the Division of Wildlife," Gray continued, "is to implement this program to make it easier for the people who would like to try hunting. The sportsmen support on this has been key. The license distribution system will be ready by August and will start issuing the new apprentice licenses in time for the fall, September 1, seasons."

A political action committee founded in 2002, the Buckeye Firearms Association is a non-partisan PAC promoting education and grassroots activism. Buckeye Firearms Association is devoted to improving Ohio laws and regulations pertaining to owning and shooting firearms.

Related Story:
USSA: Ohio Apprentice Hunter Program Becomes Reality

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