Brisk autumn air is finally here! In the next few months, hundreds of thousands of Missourians will be taking to the woods and fields to enjoy it in all sorts of ways. I asked our new ombudsman what he was doing this weekend and he mentioned that he’d be taking his son out for quail hunting (this weekend was youth quail/pheasant hunting season). That outdoor connection in the form of hunting is still strong for many, but our modern lives strain the connection. Time to enjoy it and distance to get to it seem to be big barriers. But keeping the connections strong really come down to a very simple, personal choice. New hunters need help—and those with experience, whether they’re family or friends, are the ones who can best make the difference.
National studies have shown that one-third of new hunters and anglers are more than 21 years old. So in addition to thinking about helping youth get outdoor experiences, it’s important to offer a hand to adults you know who weren’t lucky enough to get help as a child. The new Apprentice Hunter Authorization allows people 16 years and older who do not have hunter education certification to hunt in the presence of a hunter-certified adult age 21 and older (appropriate firearms permits are required in addition to this authorization permit). This gives someone the same chance offered to youth—to experience hunting in the presence of a more experienced mentor. A person can get the Apprentice Hunter authorization (plus required hunting permits) for two consecutive years. If they’re interested in hunting in future years, they’ll need to become hunter education certified.
This year we have a new addition to our calendar offerings. Missouri’s Outdoor Heritage calendar celebrates hunting and fishing, while keeping in mind how that love of the outdoors is handed down from person to person. One of our designers, Les Fortenberry, did an incredible job of creating it. He wove together old images, new scenes and items handed down from his own grandfather. It’s a labor of love of the outdoors and I think that passion shows on every page.