Wisconsin Mentored Hunting Program Grows in Second Year
With the fall hunting seasons in full swing, now is the time hunters can help secure the future of their tradition and introduce someone to hunting by taking advantage of Wisconsin's mentored hunting law.
"Mentored hunting is a great way for families to involve their kids in family gatherings and in Wisconsin's greatest hunting tradition. Participation continues to grow especially among 10 and 11-year-olds with gun deer license sales in this age group up 26 percent over this date last year," said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank. "Wisconsin hunters can be proud of the rapid growth and spotless safety record of our mentored youth hunt -- and of their own personal effort to grow the next generation of Wisconsin hunters and conservationists."
Kids with a mentored hunting license and a mentor can participate in the special youth hunts for deer, waterfowl and turkey. These special hunts take place the weekend before the general hunting seasons open for popular species, allowing youths the opportunity to hunt under generally milder weather and with the complete with attention of their adult mentor.
In 2009, the first year of the program, more than 12,000 new hunters participated under the mentored hunting program. Ten thousand of these hunters were kids age 10 or 11, who also are entitled to purchase the various types of hunting licenses at a reduced rate of $7.00.
Key to the Mentored Hunting Law are safety provisions and a focus on a one mentored hunter to one mentor pairing. Only one firearm or bow is allowed between the two and the new hunter must be within arm's reach of the mentor at all times. Mentors may not hunt if it is a designated youth hunt weekend but may hunt if they have the appropriate license during a regular season. The pair still may only carry one bow or firearm between them and must remain within arm's reach at all times. All normal hunting rules are in effect in regard to open seasons, firearm restrictions and bag limits.
Wisconsin's Mentored Hunting Law provides an opportunity to experience hunting under carefully controlled conditions designed to provide a safe experience. If the hunting bug bites, the new hunter can dig in and complete a hunter education safety course, allowing them to hunt on their own starting at age 14.
After the mentored hunt
People born after Jan. 1, 1973 must complete a hunter education course before they can hunt on their own. Courses are often in high demand and this can present a scheduling barrier to getting started in hunting especially for some busy families. The mentored hunt allows anyone over 10 years of age to experience hunting with a trusted mentor who is already a licensed hunter until the time they can complete a hunter education course.
Requirements for mentors
To serve as a mentor, a person must be at least 18 years old, have a hunting license and be a hunter education course graduate or have completed basic training with U.S. Armed Forces, if born on or after Jan. 1, 1973. The mentor and the mentored hunter must be within arm's reach at all times and may only carry one gun or one bow between them. The mentor, if not the youth's parent or legal guardian, must also have the permission of the youth’s parent or legal guardian to accompany the youth.
"Mentored hunting has proven to be a safe and rewarding experience for both the new hunter and the mentor," said Todd Schaller, conservation warden and chief of the Department of Natural Resources' recreational safety programs. "The smiles on the faces of the kids who have watched and listened to the hunting stories told by their older brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and parents and who now have a hunting story of their own are priceless. It is an important first step to becoming a responsible hunter and conservationist at a time when kids are very impressionable and are beginning to get a feel for the activities they will pursue as adults."