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Thu., March 24, 2011, 3:58 p.m.

Idaho to let newcomers to try hunting before passing safety course

HUNTING -- Idaho is joining the bandwagon of states allowing potential new hunters accompanied by a mentor to try the sport before they pass a state-certified hunter education course.

On Tuesday, Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter signed into law House Bill 85, making Idaho the 31st state to pass Families Afield legislation since the programs inception in 2004.

Montana is the only state in the Northwest that has not adopted Families Afield legislation.

This allows the Fish and Game Commission to establish a program under which newcomers could try hunting under the watchful eye of an experienced mentor prior to the completion of a hunter education course.   

Read on for details.

The concept, called try-before-you-buy, has been successful in other states, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, citing studies that show mentored hunters are the safest group in the woods.

They also boost sales of hunting licenses.

“To date, 600,000 new hunters have safely taken to the field across the country as a result of this program,” said Evan Heusinkveld USSA director of state services.  “Mentored hunting programs have a demonstrated track record of recruiting and retaining the next generation of sportsmen.”

In addition to paving the way for new hunters, the Families Afield program packs an economic punch for states, too.  Click here for more details.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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