Michigan Turns to Mentors for Hunter Recruitment, Retention

by Ben Sobieck, D&DH online editor

Michigan has a problem recruiting and retaining hunters.

"We’re well behind the national average," said Kent Wood, legislative affairs manager for Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), in an interview with Deer & Deer Hunting.

So it came as good news when Gov. Rick Snyder signed the MUCC-backed "Hunter Heritage Package" into law July 20, 2011.

"Our aim with this package was two things. Number one being recruitment and retention of hunters," Wood said. "Number two was safety."

When the pair of bills go into effect Sept. 1, 2011, they will create the Mentored Youth Hunting Program. Highlights of the program are:

• Establish a $7.50 mentored youth hunting license for Michigan residents younger than 10. The licensee may hunt with a mentor age 21 or over. This applies for deer, small game, spring and fall turkey, and fur bearers. It also includes fishing.
• Lower the age to 10 for other discounted hunting license fees.
• Require the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to report every four years to the Legislature about revenue from mentored youth hunting licenses.

The Natural Resources Council, part of the DNR, will execute the Mentored Youth Hunting Program. Erin McDonough, MUCC executive director, said she is hopeful the program will be in place for the spring 2012 turkey season.