Missouri offers a wealth of outdoor opportunities, and the Missouri Department of Conservation continues to look for ways to make it easier for people to enjoy our fish, forests and wildlife. Citizens who engage in outdoor activities, whether it is bird watching, hiking, nature study, hunting, fishing or photography, are more likely to take meaningful action to protect those resources. Hunters and anglers have traditionally played an important role in supporting conservation efforts by purchasing permits, insisting on the effective management of harvest and populations, and complying with bag limits and seasons.
Regardless of the number of new young hunters and anglers, the total number of these groups will decrease as the baby boomer population grows older. To help skilled hunters share their knowledge, the Conservation Commission approved the Apprentice Hunter Authorization. By purchasing the Apprentice Hunter Authorization for $10, an adult novice hunter can purchase firearms permits without investing the time to take a hunter education course. In return, the apprentice, age 16 and older, must hunt in the immediate presence of a properly licensed hunter 21 years old or older who is hunter-education certified. The mentor must have a filled or unfilled permit for the prescribed season.
The Apprentice Hunter Authorization allows the holder to purchase firearms permits throughout the permit year, and it can be purchased for two consecutive permit years. After the second year, the apprentice hunter will be required to become hunter-education certified if he or she wants to continue hunting on a firearms permit. Currently, Conservation Department staff is developing an online hunter education course, which will help adults work this important safety tool into their schedule. The online course will be available this summer.
The Apprentice Hunter Authorization, along with the Youth Firearms Deer & Turkey Hunting Permit and the Youth Firearms Antlerless Deer Hunting Permit, provide additional opportunities for experienced hunters to share their knowledge and love of the outdoors with their friends and family who may not have been introduced to hunting and are not yet hunter-education certified.
In another effort to make hunting more accessible, the youth spring turkey hunting season April 12 and 13 will allow youth age 15 and younger to pursue turkeys from 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset. The regular 2008 spring turkey hunting season will continue to end at 1 p.m.
The additional time in the afternoon on the youth weekend should help these young hunters have a successful hunt. According