Maine will throw out its minimum hunting age of 10 starting in 2016.
Under LD 156, children of any age may hunt in Maine. Children under 10 years old must have an adult within 20 feet of the child to be able to take active control if needed.
The new law also allows an apprentice hunting license to be purchased up to five times instead of the original two before having to take a hunter safety course.
The law was sponsored by Representative Gary Hilliard and the U.S. Sportmen’s Alliance where it had strong support throughout the entire process. When it moved to the Senate it was approved on a 26 to 6 vote after some minor changes to the law were made before being finalized.
When news of the bill were first announced, there were a lot of mixed feelings about LD 156. Some thought any hunters under 10 posed a high safety risk to themselves or others, while most loved the idea.
Hillard responded in a public hearing on the subject, “Junior hunters are the safest hunters in the woods, with an accident rate much lower than hunters overall. Junior hunting participation rates are not keeping pace and are the lowest in states with most restrictions. Studies show that the younger we start youth hunting, chances are they will stay for a lifetime. Parents care for and know their children far better than the government, and are in a better position to decide when their children should hunt.”
Maine is now the 39th state to lift their age restrictions on hunting.