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Wyoming legislators seek exemptions to big game hunting age

Wyoming legislators seek exemptions to big game hunting age

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Hunting with kids

Garrett Randall carries a toy rifle while following his dad, Mark Randall of Pinedale, on a grouse hunt.

The minimum hunting age for big game in Wyoming may soon have two exceptions permitting younger hunters.

Two bills in the Wyoming Legislature this session look to amend Wyoming State Statute 23-2-102, which currently prevents any hunter younger than age 12 from hunting big game.

“I think both merit discussion,” said Rep. Cyrus Western, R-Sheridan, who is sponsoring one of the bills. “As long as kids have an adult with them, and they’ve gone through hunter safety protocols, that’s what is important.”

Western’s bill — House Bill 84 or the Naomi Hunting Age Exception Act — was inspired by the titular Naomi, a Make-A-Wish child with terminal cancer who wanted to hunt big game in Wyoming. But Naomi’s wish went ungranted because she was younger than the minimum age.

Western’s bill states the minimum hunting age may be waived if a person younger than the age requirement demonstrates they are suffering from progressive, degenerative or malignant medical conditions that endanger their ability to hunt big game in the immediate future.

A separate bill, proposed by Rep. Jerry Paxton, R-Encampment, also provides an exception to the hunting age requirements. House Bill 115 allows children age 11 to hunt big game, as long as they will turn 12 within the calendar year.

“The purpose of it is, if you have a December birthday like I do, you automatically miss out on a year of hunting as opposed to someone who is born in January,” Paxton said.

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