In many states it is illegal for children under the age of eighteen to go hunting. Only recently did South Carolina change this law for its youth. Currently only eighteen different states have altered their hunting restrictions regarding youth hunting ages and thirty states have no minimum age requirement (Morrow 16). People throw out many reasons for not allowing children to hunt before the age of eighteen, but I believe it is every individual’s choice. Officials should make compromises to allow today's youth to hunt, yet still ensure their safety. Steps that can be implemented as compromises and in some instances have already been taken in order to allow today's youth to hunt include adult guidance, obtaining a hunting licenses, safety and information courses, and other enforced guidelines promoting youth hunter’s safety. If the negotiations are met then children should be able to hunt prior to turning eighteen.
Recently Oklahoma and South Carolina implemented new mentoring programs concerning hunters under the age of eighteen. The bill signed in both states allows youth hunters under the age of sixteen to hunt small game without first taking the required hunter safety course, given the hunter is with a licensed hunter over the age of twenty-one. The same law also allows hunters who are between the ages of sixteen and thirty-five to hunt all game without first taking a hunter safety course, but they must be accompanied by a licensed hunter over the age of twenty-one. (Remington 16)
The state of South Dakota is also making progress in the area of hunting age requirements. South Dakota is currently lobbying for a new bill called the HB1305. Bill HB1305 would allow children who are at least ten year of age to hunt any size game, as long as they are accompanied by a licensed hunter. Originally representatives had proposed there be no minimum age requirement, but many felt a drop from a minimum age of twelve to none at all was too drastic. In return, Representative Tom Deadrick purposed the current bill HB1305 which is waiting for approval. Deadrick says, “This is a big step for the state of South Dakota to go form a minimum of twelve to no minimum whatsoever, we can do it in stages and see how it works.” A law such as this would support my negotiations for lowing the hunting age for minors, if they are with a licensed but would still promote their safety. Steps such as these would allow law makers to set up a system that could be tried in order to see what worked and what did not, so that the proper adjustments could be made. (Pierre 3)
There is also a substantial number of testimonies given debating if children under the age of eighteen are physically and mentally mature enough to participate in the sport of hunting. Numerous gun-safety instructors have testified against bills such as the previous one I have presented. An experienced instructor by the name of William Cooper stated, “Many youngsters are not physically capable of carrying rifles and shotguns, and many are not mature enough to be trusted with weapons.” (Pierre 3) However, NRA lobbyist Darin Goens felt hunting digression should be left up to the individuals parents. Statistics were gathered that showed the thirty states without age requirement for hunters have better hunting safety records than the twenty states that have the age requirements. Goens says, “If parents are making bad decisions, where are the accidents?” (Pierre 3) The statistical evidence provided by Pierre also presents a good point when he questions, if lowering the age requirement is so awful then why is there not more accidents in the states without age requirements. However, this is only the findings of one report and should not necessarily be trusted without further supportive research. When coming to a census of this argument my partners and I decided based on the evidence most children probably were not physically nor mentally mature enough to carry a firearm alone. As a compromise or negotiation we decided perhaps if a safety course was completed and a certified instructor signed off on a waver stating, the child is physically and mentally stable enough to carry a firearm then only under those circumstances would they be permitted to do so.
Having specified days for children to hunt would also be a compromise for hunting age requirements. Days such as these would allow a child to gain experience, while at the same time decreasing the danger for both the child and other hunters. In addition, child hunting days would be like an introduction to the sport which would familiarize children with the rules, regulations, and expectations of the experience, making it safer for everyone. Statistics have also proven that child who are introduced into hunting wild game at a younger age are more likely to develop positive hunting skills such as, responsibility and proper conduct when participating in the sport. According to the associated press, a child who is introduced to hunting before the age of eighteen is less likely to be involved in an accident, than a child who is not allows to gain experience prior to turning eighteen. (Hart 45) Hart’s compromise allows both sides to ultimately achieve what they want. First children who are not of age are able to hunt, but are able to go about doing so in a safe manner. Based on published statistics my partners and I agreed youth hunting days are a reasonable compromised. The reasoning behind our consensus is due to the decrease in accident rates, as well as the child being accompanies by a licensee adult hunter (Owens C5). Through implementing youth hunting days into the regular hunting season a child are able to gain experience and learn skills, but at the same time a child does not oppose a threat to themselves, nor to other hunters who may be in the area. A compromise of this type allows both sides obtain what they want, while still providing a safe environment for all involved parties.
Allowing children under the age of eighteen to hunt with a licensed hunter is also a way of negotiating the age requirement for minors. According to Davidson, hunters must obtain a hunting license at the age of sixteen. Requiring hunters to obtain a hunting license, game management officials are better able to regulate who is legally allowed to hunt on game management land. In order for a person to obtain a hunting license one must first complete and pass a hunter’s education course. A hunter’s education course consists of a classroom portion, with a written test, as well as a field test. The field test includes sections such as, following blood trails and other skillful activities. Then the person must fill out somewhat extensive paperwork, and in most states if a person has ever been convicted of a felony then they are not legally permitted to carry a firearm arm, resulting in failure to obtain a hunting license. Therefore, without obtaining a hunting license they cannot legally hunt because they are not permitted to carry a firearm. (Davidson 216) Requiring hunters to obtain their hunting license prior to being allowed to chaperoning minor can provide constructive supervision of the child, which will hopefully reduce the risks opposed to both the child and additional hunters. However, my partners and I concluded that there was not enough evidence to prove that requiring one to obtain a hunting license would significantly reduce the potential occurrence of a hunting related accident. Te requirement is also already a requirement for all hunters over the age of sixteen and does not necessarily mean that someone is capable of being responsible for a child. Therefore, the idea of a licensed hunter being able to better monitor a child in the woods should only theoretical reduce the risk opposed by minors hunting wild game. However, the idea is still a solid idea to keep in place due to the hunting education class being informative and it prevents convicted felons from accessing a firearm and using it in the presence of children or others.
Children who are eighteen should be allowed to hunt wild game prior to the age of eighteen, given certain requirements are met. These requirements include: completion of a safety course, designated youth hunting days, they are found to be physically and mentally capable, and are accompanied by a responsible adult. Only under these special circumstances should the age requirement law concerning hunting be negotiated.
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