Upon the creation of the Mentored Youth Hunting Program in spring 2012, options for young hunters expanded greatly in Michigan - along with the number of questions from parents and other adults wondering how they and their children can participate in this new program and other youth hunting opportunities.
From questions about safety and firearm restrictions, to what species mentored youth may harvest, the following list represents the most frequent questions DNR staff are hearing regarding the Mentored Youth Hunting Program and youth hunting in general. With the youth waterfowl and deer hunts quickly approaching (on Sept. 15-16 and Sept. 22-23, respectively), we hope this information will clear up any lingering questions before youth hunters head into the field this fall.
How old does my child need to be to hunt in Michigan?
The Hunter Heritage Act of 2011 eliminated the minimum hunting age in Michigan, allowing parents to determine at what age their child is ready to hunt. The newly created Mentored Youth Hunting Program allows youth 9 years of age and younger to hunt with a qualified mentor. Youth hunters 10-16 years old also must have adult supervision while in the field. Once a hunter turns 17 years old, they are free to hunt on their own without adult supervision, provided they have obtained a hunter safety certificate.
How much does a mentored youth hunting license cost, and what does it include?
A mentored youth license is $7.50, and is a package license that allows hunting of small game, waterfowl, deer (two tags, good for any deer) and turkey (spring and fall). The mentored youth license also allows furbearer trapping, and includes an all species fishing license. The first time a youth hunter purchases a license, they will also need to purchase a $1 DNR Sportcard, which creates a unique ID number for that hunter in the DNR's license sales system.
What are the regulations and requirements for participation in the Mentored Youth Hunting Program?
To hunt under the Mentored Youth Hunting Program, hunters 9 years of age or younger must be accompanied by an adult mentor (either a parent, guardian, or designee of the parent or guardian) who is at least 21 years old. The mentor must have prior hunting experience and possess a valid Michigan hunting license. The mentor may carry two hunting devices in the field (shotgun, rifle, bow or crossbow); the mentor is responsible for making sure the hunting devices are properly fitted to the physical abilities of their mentored youth hunter(s). There is no limit on the number of children a mentor may take into the field, however, the DNR strongly encourages mentors to accompany only one or two youth hunters at a time. The youth hunter must remain within arm's length of the mentor at all times, and the mentor assumes all responsibility for the actions of the youth hunter while in the field.
Is youth firearm use restricted on public land?
During the small game, waterfowl and turkey seasons, youth hunters (16 years old and younger) may use firearms on both public and private land. During the deer seasons, youth hunters 13 years old and younger may only use archery and crossbow equipment on public land, although they are allowed to use a firearm on private land or Commercial Forest land. Youth hunters 14-16 years old may use a firearm to hunt deer on both public and private land. (These same restrictions apply for youth hunters 10-16 years old hunting bear or elk.)
At what age is a hunter safety certificate required?
Participants in the Mentored Youth Hunting Program are not required to have a hunter safety certificate, although the DNR does strongly encourage any youth interested in hunting to take the course. Youth hunters 10 years and older are required to have a hunter safety certificate to purchase a hunting license, unless they choose to hunt under the apprentice license program, which allows anyone 10 years old and older to hunt with a qualified adult for two years before hunter safety is required.
Is it safe to take children under age 10 hunting?
The intent of the Hunter Heritage Act of 2011, which eliminated the minimum hunting age, was to allow parents or guardians, who know their children best, to decide when a child is ready to hunt. Statistics show that youth hunters are the safest hunters in the woods due to the direct adult supervision and guidance they receive while in the field.
For full details about the Mentored Youth Hunting Program, including an informational video, go online to michigan.gov/mentoredhunting. For more information about youth hunting regulations, please see page 13 of the 2012 Michigan Hunting and Trapping Digest, available at any DNR Operations Service Center, license agent, or online at michigan.gov/hunting.
Debbie Munson Badini is the DNR's Deputy Public Information Officer. Have a question about natural resource management in Michigan? Send questions to email@example.com, call 906-226-1352, or get in touch on Twitter @MichiganDNR_UP.