(left to right) Dennis Conger, Senator Fisher, Kyle Conger, Rob Sexton (U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance), Govenor Heineman, Brett Bayer, Melissa Schilling (National Shooting Sports Foundation) Mark Pinkerton (Nebraska Game & Parks)
LINCOLN, Neb. — Brett Bayer, Nebraska’s National Wild Turkey Federation state chapter president and Dennis Conger, NWTF regional director, attended a ceremonial signing of a new law by Gov. Dave Heineman that will enhance opportunities for Nebraska’s youth hunters.
The NWTF, the National Rifle Association (NRA), the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) worked diligently to create support for, and the passage of Legislative Bill 690.
The law creates an apprentice hunter education exemption certificate that allows experienced hunters to take a newcomer hunting before completing a hunter education course. The new law also lowers the deer-hunting age for mentored youth from 12 to 10, allowing parents to introduce their sons and daughters to America’s hunting tradition at a younger age.
“Our partners and volunteers worked hard to promote this bill, and we believe it gives Nebraska’s youth enhanced opportunity to experience the Great Outdoors,” said Brett Bayer, NWTF Nebraska state chapter president. “Our studies show that mentored youth hunters are the safest in the field, and also that youth who start hunting at a younger age are more likely to remain hunters for life.”
The NWTF, along with the USSA and NSSF, has led the charge to remove youth hunting barriers via the Families Afield initiative. Together, with the support of the National Rifle Association and state and local sportsmen’s organizations, the partnership has worked to remove state restrictions for youth hunting.
“The NWTF’s grassroots network of volunteers in Nebraska should be commended for their work in the passage of this legislation,” said Rob Keck, NWTF CEO. “Their dedication to creating opportunities for new hunters has paid off.”
To date, 21 states have passed legislation similar to Nebraska’s. Data from six of those states show that apprentice hunting programs introduced more than 35,000 young people to America’s outdoor tradition of hunting.
“Allowing mentors to get young people interested in hunting at an early age lays the foundation for being good conservationists,” said Keck. “By removing barriers at the state level, we’re ensuring our hunting heritage remains strong.”
NWTF Regional Biologist Brandon Houck echoed those sentiments, noting, “Hunters help fuel Nebraska’s economy with the dollars they spend on their sport and on travel. Signing this bill into law means great things not only for Nebraska but for the future of wildlife conservation as well.”