Wisconsin Mentor Hunting Program Begins Sept. 1

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On September 1, 2009 a new law will take effect in Wisconsin. Known as the Hunting Mentorship Program, this new law will allow people interested in experiencing hunting, including those age 10 and older, to hunt under controlled conditions and under the close supervision of a mentor prior to passing a hunter education course.

"By working together, many statewide conservation organizations, the department, and legislators have developed the safest mentored hunting law in the country. This law creates new opportunities, and makes it easier for both youth and adults interested in becoming a hunter to try hunting in a safe and controlled manner," said DNR Secretary Matt Frank. "There is a strong emphasis on safety, responsibility and close communication between the new hunter and the mentor."

Key safety related provisions that are intended to focus the mentor's full attention on the person being mentored include:

  • * A mentor can only assist one person hunting under this program at a time;
  • * The mentor must be within arm's reach of the hunter at all times while hunting, and
  • * Only one firearm or one bow may be carried between the mentor and hunter.

The new law allows persons 10 years of age and older, as well as adults who were born on or after 1/1/73 and have not taken hunter education, to participate in a mentored hunting experience. The law makes it possible for aspiring young hunters in hunting families or youth and adults who may have grown up in a non-hunting family to "test drive" the hunting experience. People who decide they want to pursue hunting beyond the controlled conditions of the Mentored Hunting program will be required to pass an approved hunter education course.

New hunters and mentors must follow all existing rules and regulations regarding appropriate hunting licenses, permits and tags, season dates, bag limits and clothing requirements. A mentor must be at least 18 years of age, must have a current year's hunting license and if born on or after 1-1-73, must have successfully completed a hunter education course or have completed basic training with the U.S. Armed Forces. Additionally, if the mentored hunter is under age 18, the mentor must be the hunter's parent or guardian or have permission of the hunter's parent or guardian to take the person under 18 hunting. A mentor is allowed to serve as mentor for only one hunter at a time under this new law.

All people hunting with a "Mentored Only" hunting license must be within arm's reach of a qualified mentor at all times while hunting, and only one firearm or bow can be possessed between them. If the mentor chooses to hunt at the same time as the mentored hunter, the mentor must have the appropriate license for the species being hunted, and the single firearm or bow rule still applies.

"The hunting tradition is important to Wisconsin. It is deeply ingrained in the fabric of our state's culture and economy," Secretary Frank said. "This law gives seasoned hunters a chance to give something back - to do for someone today what someone else did for them years ago – introduce them to the hunting experience which then became a lifetime interest."

Interested persons can obtain a mentored hunter's license at any license sales agent, online and at DNR Service Centers. Reduced rate licenses are available for those who are 10 and 11 years of age.

More information on Mentored Hunting in Wisconsin is available on the DNR Web site http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/wildlife/hunt/mentor.htm or call toll free 1-888-WDNRINFo (1-888-936-7463) from 7AM-10PM seven days a week.