Aug. 10 was a good day for hunters in New Jersey as Gov. Chris Christie signed Senate Bill 573 into law, making the Garden State the 39th to offer an apprentice youth hunting program. Effective immediately, hunters ages 14 and older may obtain their firearm or bowhunting hunting license providing they will be hunting with a mentor who is at least 21 years old and has purchased a license for the same hunting method.
According to NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, the bill passed by an overwhelming margin of 31-1 in the state senate and 31-1 in the general assembly.
In the past, lengthy hunter-education requirements and/or the amount of time it took to complete the course sometimes discouraged potential new hunters merely interested in trying out the sport. The apprentice program has a built-in safety measure, allowing our young friends and family members to experience hunting under adult supervision before taking the course. The goal is for apprentices to eventually complete a hunter education course so they can hunt on their own, which is typically the case in states that offer similar programs. Approximately 1.5 million apprentice hunting licenses have been sold in participating states since 2006.