DETROIT (WWJ) - Kids under 10 years old can now head into the woods with a gun and a licensed hunter over 21-years-old, and hunt for small game.
Dennis Fox with the Department of Natural Resources said it’s all part of Michigan’s new hunting program to encourage kids to learn to love hunting at an early age.
DNR Director Rodney Stokes said sales for hunting and fishing licenses have been down about one percent each year for the last decade.
“This is something that other states are experiencing also, but we want to make sure we reverse that trend, because those hunting and fishing licenses help us maintain and manage the natural resources of this state,” said Stokes.
Fox said the new “Mentored Youth Hunting Program” hopes to change those statistics.
“The youth has to be within arm’s length of the mentor, and the mentor has to ensure that the hunting device is sized properly to fit the physical abilities of the youth to ensure safety and responsible handling. You know, they’re probably not going to be out there with a big 12 gauge shotgun,” said Fox.
“They’re going to be using some of the smaller gauges, like .22′s and .410′s, that are going to fit their body size. The same for if they’re using crossbows or regular compound bow,” he continued.
Fox said the program is geared toward parents and other adults who want to teach children hunt and fish, and lets the adult determine if and when their child is ready to hunt.
With the license, youth hunters under the age of 10 will be able to hunt turkey on private or public land, deer and small game, trap furbearers and fish for all species. The youth license goes on sale Thursday and costs $7.50.
A law signed last year by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder eliminated the minimum hunting age in the state.
Supporters of the law said the move helps control Michigan’s deer population and promote safe hunting habits from an early age. But many opponents say giving a child a firearm is overall a bad idea.
For more information on the Mentored Youth Hunting Program, visit www.michigan.gov/dnr.