How young is too young for children to hunt?
A Montana bill that would lower the legal hunting age from 12 to 11-years old has passed the Senate and is moving on to the House.
Supporters of the bill, like its sponsor, Senator Mark Blasdel, believe that the bill will help get more kids started at an earlier age in outdoor sporting activities. Senator Blasdel remarked, “It just helps to increase the opportunities for youth to get out into the outdoors and engage in hunting activities.”
According to Sen. Bladel, 35 states allow children younger than 12 to hunt and, he said, “it’s shown huge successes.”
States have quite a mix of different laws concerning legal hunting age. Washington and Vermont, for example, have no minimum hunting age but do require that hunters pass a hunters safety course. Alaska indicates that no license is required for any hunter 15 years of age or younger. Minnesota laws indicate that youths 11 or younger may hunt non-big game if accompanied by parent or legal guardian, while youths age 12 and older may hunt big game with a hunter education certificate. Missouri youth ages 6 through 15 may hunt antlerless deer and turkey when in the immediate presence of a qualified adult.
Despite similar age-specific laws in other states, some Montana residents, including some hunters, are opposed to the proposed change.
Parent and hunting instructor Richard Poeppel suggested that, “We teach when you take it out of the gun case you are responsible, no one else is and I don’t think a 10-year-old can be treated like an adult in fact 12 is barely making it I would say.”
The opposition to the bill appears to center less around hunting than it does gun safety concerns. Certainly children of any age should be introduced to hunting and the great outdoors at as early an age as possible.
The age at which it is appropriate to allow children to safely handle firearms is a legitimate issue. But we should also remember that for previous generations hunting at early ages was not only seen as acceptable but was, in many cases, understood to be an expected necessity.
Kids Gone Hunting, a youth hunting advocate site, supports youth hunting although they do not appear to promote any particular minimum age for hunting. They suggest that youth hunting instills a number of laudable character traits at an early age, qualities such as confidence, responsibility, discipline and stewardship.
Do you think there should be a minimum age for kids to start hunting, and if yes, what would it be?