New hunting law balanced options, safety

Friday, February 15, 2008

On the surface, a new law signed by Gov. Dave Heineman simply cuts some red tape when it comes time to go hunting, but it has the potential for positive results far beyond the field and pond.

LB690 creates the Hunter Apprentice Exemption Certificate, which can be issued to any nonhunter ages 12-29 who wishes to try hunting in Nebraska and who has not yet completed the required hunter and/or bow hunter education course.

It can be issued only once in a person's lifetime, with one renewal, for a fee of $5. The hunter must have a valid hunting permit or stamp, be accompanied by licensed hunter at least 19, and be visible and within earshot at all times.

It also allows the hunting of deer by a person at least age 10, and hunters age 10 or 11 must be accompanied at all times while hunter. Those age 12 through 15 must be supervised by a person who is at least 19 and has a valid hunting permit.

There are limits as well to the number of individuals 12 through 15 hunting deer, antelope, elk or mountain sheep that may be supervised at any one time by a licensed hunter 19 or age or older to no more than two.

The new law also allows a person at least 30 to hunt without taking a hunter and/or bow hunter education course.

There are good reasons the state instituted hunter education. Too many hunting opportunities were lost over the years because of reckless behavior by a few irresponsibile individuals.

By allowing new hunters a chance to try the sport before investing time and money in the state's hunter education program, the new law will revive an activity that was in danger of decline.

But the new law also opens opportunities for fathers and sons and daughters, mothers and children and even mentors and mentees to spend time together, learning a challenging and rewarding sport.

The act of bagging a big buck, field-dressing and caring for the meat, flushing a pheasant or calling in a flock of ducks on a frosty morning creates shared experiences that bond friends and family together for a lifetime.

Hunting always requires an investiment in time and money, but thanks to the new regulations, it will be a little bit easier.

The new law restores a much-needed balance between safety and opportunity.

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