Recently introduced Families Afield legislation in Utah cleared its first hurdle this week as the bill passed the Senate’s Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee.
Senate Bill 165, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund, would allow a first time hunter 12 or older to hunt with a mentor. Known as the “Trial Hunting Permit,” Utah SB 165 employs the try-before-you-buy concept that has become synonymous with Families Afield and apprentice hunting.
“A Trial Hunting Program will allow individuals who have never hunted before to give the sport a try with an experienced, licensed hunter before taking a Hunter Education class,” said Greg Sheehan, Utah’s director of wildlife resources. “This program will help ensure the future of Utah’s hunting heritage.”
Families Afield is a collaborative effort started by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Wild Turkey Federation and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) to reduce and remove barriers to get the next generation of hunters into the field. Along with the National Rifle Association and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Families Afield has been enacted in 35 states with more than one million apprentice hunting licenses being sold as a result.
“Apprentice hunting has a long and proven track record of safely introducing new hunters to our sport,” said Evan Heusinkveld, USSA’s vice president of government affairs. “We are excited that Utah has taken the first step towards enacting the Trial Hunting Permit program. Apprentice hunting programs have introduced more than one million new hunters over the past eight years with great results. Sportsmen in Utah should contact their state senators today in support of Senate 165.”
In addition to the Families Afield partners, the SB 165 is being supported by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and a long list of Utah sportsmen’s organizations.