An initiative for the future of hunting
A national effort of the National Shooting Sports Foundation

What is an Apprentice Hunting License?

An apprentice hunting license, also called a mentored hunting license, allows a person to try hunting prior to the completion of hunter education as long as they are under the direct supervision of an experienced mentor. This concept is called "Try Before You Buy." It is the cornerstone of the Families Afield program.

Thirty-three states sell Apprentice or Mentored Hunting Licenses. Two states adopted the alternative approach of simply lowering minimum hunting ages to attract more young hunters.

The apprentice license is effective at attracting new hunters of all ages in a remarkably safe manner. Click HERE for safety information.

Apprentice Hunting Creates New Hunters: 1 Million Apprentice Licenses Sold

From 2006 — 2012, more than 1,006,269 apprentice licenses were sold across the United States. Each year, the number of apprentices continues to increase as states expand their apprentice programs, and additional states enact Families Afield style legislation or regulations.

* Apprentice Hunting Licenses Buyer Survey data compiled by Mile Creek Communications.

Aren't Apprentice Hunters Just People Who Would Have Hunted Anyways Without an Apprentice License?

Some have suggested that Families Afield attracts apprentice license buyers who would have become hunters anyways. Research from Minnesota shows that is true for less than 1/4th of apprentice hunters in the state. The data makes it clear that without apprentice hunting to help recruit new hunters, the majority of those individuals would have not hunted, and another 26% report that they are not sure if they would have or not without the new license.

Would you have hunted if the Apprentice Program did not exist?
Source: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources - Apprentice Hunter Validation Survey

Apprentice Hunters Take Hunter Education:

Apprentice hunting allows new hunters to try hunting before spending countless hours in a hunter education class. This "try-before-you-buy" concept allows mentors to instill safety, ethics, and their passion for the sport in new hunters in a safe setting while they get to experience the thrill of the hunt. It's important to note that a component of Families Afield is the requirement that prior to becoming a fully licensed hunter a newcomer must pass hunter education.

The program is working! Research from the Ohio Division of Wildlife shows that once Apprentice hunters are hooked, they voluntarily transition to becoming a fully licensed hunter by taking Hunter Education before it's required by law.

What Happens to Apprentice License buyers in Years 2 & 3?
Data Compiled by: Ohio Division of Wildlife

In year two, nearly 1/2 of repeat license buyers (44%) took Hunter Ed when they could have continued to hunt on an apprentice license for two additional years. By year three, it jumps to 75%. This data demonstrates that Apprentice hunters are giving up the remaining years of eligibility for Apprentice licenses and transitioning to Hunter Education and regular hunting licenses.