Back about 15 years ago I was working on a research project that required me to review the hunting and fishing regulations for all 50 states. It was an interesting project, to say the least, as I soon discovered that what is commonly accepted as sport in some states would be frowned upon in others. Yet, during that research I also discovered that a handful of states had an interesting option for purchasing hunting and fishing licenses – that option allowed for a lifetime license.
The more I thought about it the more I liked the idea of purchasing a one-time license. At the time I then contact my local legislator, Steve Sviggum, who is now Minnesota’s Speaker of the House in the House of Representatives. Steve did some checking with DNR officials about the concept, but ultimately it was concluded that the DNR had strong concerns about how those critical monies would be handled for the long-term benefit. In essence, the DNR was worried that if a fund of money (from lifetime licenses sold) was developed to become interest bearing, it would become a temptation for lawmakers to divert for other matters.
The whole concept of my lifetime license proposal was simple. I proposed that the license must be purchased for an individual anytime between the ages of birth and three years. This would allow a period of at least 10 years for this money to grow with interest before the individual would otherwise be required to buy any licenses (12 years is the earliest a license must be purchased for anything). I reasoned that this up-front money would be a great stimulus for the DNR if the money was used properly, however, my proposal failed.
Then low and behold about 8 years later I seen the issue reemerge and finally become law. Today, sportsmen in Minnesota (residents and non-residents alike) may purchase a hunting or a sportsman’s license (allowing both hunting and fishing). Moreover, the cost of that license is prorated based on your age…with individuals in the 16 to 50 year old bracket paying the highest one-time fee.
So why does all of this matter? Well, I was a big proponent of the concept for one very important reason. Certainly the cost of the license is a serious investment…but the investment that mattered most for me was not the financial one. Instead, it was the commitment I was making to that individual for whom I purchased the license. Remember, my original proposal was much more limiting than what is in place today. I concluded that if I suddenly became a new father or uncle of some youngster…and I purchased the license as a gift for the child…I was making a pledge to ensure that kid grew up to enjoy the outdoors.
I firmly believe that the future of our sports depends on us to instill an interest in the youth. With the ever increasing social pressures and free time possibilities for kids today, far too often the outdoors takes a backseat. Nothing makes me cringe more than to see a child who would rather stay indoors to play Xbox or PlayStation when they could be outdoors enjoying the fascinating world of nature. In large part I blame the parents. Our culture used to be that a child couldn’t wait until they were old enough to go hunting with dad or Uncle Charlie. The anticipation mounted as the child got older and closer to that first hunt. Similarly, even though many adults take children fishing at an early age, I sometimes wonder if more couldn’t be done to instill a lifetime interest in the child.
I applaud the Minnesota Legislature and DNR for finally recognizing the great value in the lifetime license system and what it can mean to our state. I also think the pricing structure they have established is a great value no matter what your age. Check it out by clicking here. Moreover, when you give a gift of a lifetime license to a child your generosity will be long remembered and appreciated by that individual as they grow older. Indeed, few other gifts you can give will have such a lasting impact and will leave fond memories of your outdoor spirit.
© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.