PHOENIX — Effective Jan. 1, the Arizona Game and Fish Department is offering a new “Apprentice Hunting License” at no charge, to encourage existing hunters to become mentors and introduce a friend, neighbor, relative, or co-worker to the traditions and importance of hunting.
The Apprentice License allows an already licensed hunter to take a beginner on an actual hunt — without the beginner having to buy a hunting license.
The Apprentice License is free for residents and nonresidents and is valid for two consecutive days for the take of small game, fur-bearing, predatory and nongame mammals, nongame birds, and upland game birds. (To take migratory birds or waterfowl, the appropriate stamps are required at normal costs). The license is not valid for the take of big game.
Many people express an interest in hunting, but are deterred either because of not knowing how to get started, or the initial expense. The Apprentice Hunting License removes the initial cost barrier of having to buy a license (which costs between $26.50 and $151.25, depending on age and residency), so that newcomers can “try before they buy.”
“This will allow a seasoned hunter to take someone new under their wing and teach them the basics about hunting, firearm safety and wildlife conservation without cost prohibitive burdens,” said Chairman Bill McLean of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.
“There are many states with this type of license, and it has become a model for removing barriers in the national effort to increase hunter participation.”
The Apprentice Hunting License is only available at Arizona Game and Fish Department offices. The mentor must be at least 18 years old and possess a valid hunting license and is limited to two Apprentice Hunting Licenses per calendar year. The license must be made out to the name of the apprentice, with the mentor’s name associated with the license.
The apprentice can only receive one license per calendar year. The mentor is required to be with the apprentice at all times while in the field, providing instruction and supervision on safe and ethical hunting.
“This is a great opportunity to help preserve and expand Arizona’s hunting heritage and wildlife management through the next generation,” said Craig McMullen, Hunter Heritage Work Group team leader for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Not only will this allow someone new to experience the thrill of the hunt, this also allows mentors to teach others about wildlife conservation and the important role that hunters, as conservationists play, in the management of all wildlife.”
“Outside of getting new hunters in the field, safety is our number one concern. Hunting in Arizona is very safe, and we have one of the lowest accident rates in the United States,” said Dave Williams, hunter education coordinator of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
“A good mentor will instill the basics of wearing hunter orange and how to safely handle a firearm through T.A.B.+1: Treat every firearm as if it were loaded; Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction; Be sure of your target and beyond; and keep your finger outside of the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot. Nearly every hunting-related accident can be avoided by following these simple principles”
However, with the added flexibility comes added responsibility. Mentors need to set a good example to these impressionable newcomers. Mentors should consider the following guidelines:
• Focus on the experience, not the harvest
•Obey all laws
•Keep your apprentice’s physical limits in mind
•Teach field dressing and cooking
•Plan a follow-up outing
•Seasoned hunters can start the New Year giving.
By introducing someone new to hunting, you are giving the gift of the American hunting heritage. Quail season runs until Feb. 8.