Have you ever thought about giving hunting a try? Well in the past if you wanted to try your hand at hunting you were required to take an eight hour hunter education course; purchase a hunting license and whatever stamps were necessary; figure out the correct gear you need for your hunt and then find someone to show you the ropes. It’s how hunting works in Nevada, but it does tend to scare off the casual observer who is not totally convinced that hunting is for them. That’s where the apprentice hunting license comes in.
“Hunting is a great sport, but it’s also not the easiest thing to just jump into. It can be a little intimidating for a novice to get into hunting if you’ve never been out before,” said Chris Vasey, outdoor educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. “The Apprentice License allows a person who has never hunted before to get that experience and see what all his friends are talking about.”
The Apprentice Hunter License, introduced in 2011, allows anyone 12 and older to hunt upland game and waterfowl (no tagged species) for one season without first completing a Hunter Education Course. The apprentice must have never previously held a hunting license and must always be accompanied and closely supervised by a mentor 18 or older who holds a valid Nevada hunting license and is willing to assume legal responsibility for the apprentice hunter. After one season those apprentices who want to continue hunting must successfully complete their Hunter Education course requirement - which in Nevada applies to anyone born after January 1, 1960 - before purchasing another hunting license.
“This is the time of year where your coworkers come into the office talking about their latest hunting trip. They talk about getting out camping with their buddies, the “thrill of the chase” or how good chukar tastes,” said Vasey. “You want to give it a try but you don’t really have any idea what it would take to get into hunting. With the Apprentice License you can have an experienced hunter take you out and show you what you’ve been missing.”
The inspiration behind the Nevada Apprentice Hunting License came from Assemblyman David Bobzien (D, Reno) who introduced the so called “Try Before You Buy” apprentice hunter bill in the 2009 Nevada Legislature to address the long-term decline in hunting by making the sport more readily accessible.
According to Families Afield, a partnership between the National Shooting Sports Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation and U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance formed to help states create hunting opportunities for youth, Nevada is one of 32 states that have passed apprentice or mentored hunter laws since 2004. In that time Families Afield claims that more than 780,000 new hunters have been created under similar apprentice hunter programs and with its new Apprentice Hunting License NDOW is hoping to add least a few new hunters to that total this fall.
“Most hunters were introduced to hunting as kids through family members or friends. This license is more for those people who didn’t get that introduction, but who are interested in seeing what it’s all about,” said John McKay, statewide outdoor education coordinator for NDOW. “A big part of the reason for this license is the 20-30 year old people who didn’t come from a hunting family and didn’t have the opportunity of growing up around hunting.”
The license is free, but with mandatory habitat conservation and license agent fees ($4) and applicable stamps (state upland and /or state and federal duck); the cost will be $14 for upland game, $29 for waterfowl or $39 for both. The new Apprentice License is currently only available at NDOW regional offices statewide, but will be offered online in the future. You can find the forms for the license on the NDOW website at ndow.org.
“A lot of the people who take advantage of this license get out there in the field and experience hunting for the first time are coming back hooked,” said McKay. “They may have been on the fence before, but now they know what they’ve been missing.”