Commission approves offering Apprentice Hunter program
A proposal to allow youths 10 years and older to hunt one time without taking a hunter education course was adopted Thursday by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife commission.
The Apprentice License would be a one-time waiver of the state’s current hunter education requirement, which says anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1949 must pass a state-approved Hunter Education course.
The young hunters would be required to take an online pre-hunt survey and hunt accompanied by a mentor 18 or older who has taken a hunter education course.
The current requirement of a hunter being at least 12 before hunting big game would not change, said Todd Schmidt, the statewide Hunter Education coordinator.
“We would encourage small-game hunting” in an effort to drum up more hunter participation, Schmidt said.
The Parks and Wildlife commission was unanimous in its acceptance but changing the 1971 statute requires legislative approval before becoming effective.
“We hope to take it before the Legislature next year,” said Schmidt.
According to Parks and Wildlife, an estimated 20,000 people each year take one of the approximately 700 hunter safety courses offered annually, either one of the traditional classroom-based courses or an abbreviated online course.
Schmidt said 35 other states currently allow young hunters to hunt without a hunter education course.
Utah’s Trial Hunting program introduced this year allows someone 21 years of age or older to take a person 12 to 15 years old hunting, even if the 12- to 15-year-old hasn’t completed Hunter Education.
The Parks and Wildlife commission also approved waiving the hunter education requirement for persons 50 and older.
Both proposals are part of the commission’s desire to combat the continued decrease in hunter participation.
The commission also approved a slight change in the wording about youth big-game licenses, establishing a minimum 15 percent of certain limited licenses available to youth hunters.
The current language says “up to” 15 percent.