On Tuesday, Gov. Paul LePage signed legislation that makes Maine the 40th state to allow its citizens to decide when their children begin to hunt. The bill, LD 156 sponsored by Rep. Gary Hilliard (R-Belgrade), eliminates the state’s minimum hunting age for junior hunters who hunt under the close supervision of a mentor. The bill also increases the number of years an adult apprentice hunter can participate in the program, from the current two years to five.
The bill is part of a national program called Families Afield, which seeks to lower the barriers that prevent hunters from passing their hunting heritage to the next generation. The program was founded by the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, National Shooting Sports Foundation, and National Wild Turkey Federation. It is also supported by the National Rifle Association and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. In Maine, LD 156 was also supported by the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and the Maine Professional Guides Association.
In addition to Rep. Hilliard, special acknowledgement is also due to House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee Co-Chairs Mike Shaw and Paul Davis, Rep. Dale Crafts, and Sen. David Dutremble.