South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem Repeals Hunting Restrictions for Kids

Governor Kristi Noem and South Dakota legislators are making it easier for kids to get in the field. (Photo: Noem/Facebook)

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem made good on her promise to expand hunting and fishing access to kids under the age of 18, residents and non-residents alike. Noem signed House Bill 1034 into law last week, which allows people under the age of 18 to hunt, fish or trap without licenses or fees.

“2020 was a tremendous year for youth hunting and fishing in South Dakota, and we’re building on that for the future,” Noem said in a news release. “The goal of this legislation is to get more young people involved in our outdoor way of life at an early age so they continue those experiences long into their adulthood.”

The bill ends the state’s complicated age- and game-based licensing scheme and replaces it with two simple sets of rules for youth fishing and hunting. Now everyone under the age of 18 may fish without licenses or fees, and again, this includes visitors to the state.

Youth hunting is mostly the same. Hunters under the age of 18 will not need a license or pay any fees, however, hunters under the age of 15 will need to participate with a resident mentor, and their mentor must have the appropriate game licenses.

See Also: Germany Sees 25% Increase in Hunting Participation Driven By Hunters Seeking Ethically Sourced Food

Mentors include any parents and adults competent with hunting, having completed the appropriate hunters’ education courses. There are some restrictions on how the adults must be licensed and whether or not the child may take some large game, but as a whole, the new rule scheme is much more approachable.

The bill, backed by 34 legislators, passed with a 56-13 vote on the House floor with one abstain. Opponents argued that the loss in licensing fees could cost the state close to $300,000 per year, but proponents of the bill say parents and visitors will spend that much if not more getting out there hunting and fishing.

“Less COVID, more hunting, that’s the plan for the future,” Noem said last year as a way to promote social distancing in the great outdoors.

Prior to House Bill 1034 many youths simply didn’t engage in hunting and fishing, citing the hard-to-navigate licensing scheme.

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About the author: Max Slowik is a writer with over a dozen years of experience and is a lifelong shooter. He has unwavering support for the Second Amendment and the human right to self-defense. His ambition is to follow Thomas Paine, as a journalist by profession and a propagandist by inclination.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • dave brown March 2, 2021, 12:36 pm

    This was a good move, and I wish it would have happened back in the 80s and 90s when I was shooting and hunting with my young kid, but better late than never.

    Now if Noem would only Open Up SD Land to target shooting – sport shooting we would have a much better State of South Dakota. I will guess that 99% of Our State-Owned Land is posted as no target shooting which is sad for a rural state that is called an Open State. I have sent her and others requests and ideas on how to open our land. I have suggested it could be open to target shooting in Off Seasons or off hours to not disrupt its use for Hunting. I even suggested a Target Shooting Permit with a paid fee, but so far No Go.

    Kids and Families need a place to practice and target shoot, so I am waiting for Our State to Open Up Our Land, and give them places to enjoy The Shooting Sports. I think part of their reason or excuse is the trash that might be left behind, key word is might be. Now during my 52 years since I turned 16 I have hunted a lot and I have told a lot of so called hunters to take their trash with them, and our State Game & Fish workers would only need to encourage cleaning the land, and they might have to have a clean up day from time to time, or they may have to bend over and pick up some trash themselves.

    Come On Noem, please free up our state land to Target Shooting.

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