Kids 9 and younger can hunt deer now

New law takes ef­fect as gun sea­son ap­proaches

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - Ja­son Stein

MADI­SON – Chil­dren age 9 — and much younger if par­ents choose — will be able to deer hunt with an adult Satur­day for the first time in Wis­con­sin, un­der a newly signed state law.

On Satur­day, Gov. Scott Walker signed the mea­sure to al­low chil­dren younger than 10 to hunt if they are ac­com­pa­nied by an adult men­tor who stays within arm’s length of their charge. Licenses for these young hunters went on sale Mon­day.

State Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) said when he took his 8-yearold daugh­ter hunt­ing, he had to do it in Michi­gan be­cause she wasn’t old enough to legally hunt in Wis­con­sin at

that time. Kleefisch, the chair­man of the As­sem­bly Com­mit­tee on Nat­u­ral Re­sources and Sport­ing Her­itage, said par­ents should be able to de­cide when their chil­dren are ready.

“It’s not gov­ern­ment’s job to tell par­ents” that, said Kleefisch, as he proudly showed off hunt­ing photos of his daugh­ters, who are now 11 and 14.

The state’s nine-day gun deer sea­son starts on Satur­day and runs un­til Nov. 26, pro­vid­ing a chance for hunters to shoot hun­dreds of thou­sands of deer around Wis­con­sin to help feed their fam­i­lies. Few states east of the Mis­sis­sippi River have as rich a hunt­ing tra­di­tion as Wis­con­sin.

In this state, hunters still need to be at least 14 and have passed a hunter’s safety class to hunt alone.

But the men­tor­ing pro­vi­sion in the law al­lows chil­dren or adults who have not yet passed hunter’s safety classes to par­tic­i­pate in the deer hunt or any of the other sea­sons open in Wis­con­sin this fall such as small game, wa­ter­fowl or tur­key.

The men­tor must be at least 18 and must stay within arm’s reach of his or her stu­dent.

As­sem­bly Bill 455 also now al­lows both a men­tor and child of any age to carry a gun or bow. Pre­vi­ously, chil­dren had to be at least 10 to hunt with a men­tor, and the adult and child be­tween them could carry only one weapon.

The com­bi­na­tion of those two changes makes long­time hunter’s safety in­struc­tor Ray An­der­son un­easy. Stress­ing he spoke only for him­self, An­der­son said he tes­ti­fied against the bill be­cause he be­lieves that men­tors should leave their own guns at home and fo­cus on the child they’re teach­ing.

“How can your full at­ten­tion be on the child? It can’t,” An­der­son said of men­tors who are look­ing to shoot them­selves. “That’s how ac­ci­dents hap­pen.”

For his part, Kleefisch said many other states also open up men­tored hunt­ing pro­grams to young chil­dren. Men­tored hunt­ing is safer than other kinds be­cause

In this state, hunters still need to be at least 14 and have passed a hunter’s safety class to hunt alone.

an adult who has been through a hunter’s safety class must be be­side the new hunter, he said.

The statis­tics bear that out, he said. “That’s one of the rea­sons men­tor­ing some­one is so im­por­tant,” Kleefisch said.

The Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion, which sup­ported the leg­is­la­tion, has said that only four states, in­clud­ing Wis­con­sin, had a one-weapon re­stric­tion on men­tored hunts.

Many states al­low young chil­dren to hunt, though many re­quire a men­tor and many also im­pose a min­i­mum age for deer and other big game an­i­mals, mak­ing com­par­isons dif­fi­cult. The big game distinc­tion mat­ters be­cause it can take sub­stan­tial strength to draw the kind of bow or shoot the kind of cen­ter­fire ri­fle nec­es­sary to legally take a deer or black bear.

Pro­po­nents of the leg­is­la­tion point to an­other rea­son to make it easier for chil­dren to hunt: most con­ser­va­tion pro­grams in Wis­con­sin and other states rely on a dwin­dling stream of older hunters and an­glers to fund their pro­grams.

The Se­nate passed the men­tored hunt­ing bill last week, 21-12, with all Repub­li­cans vot­ing for the pro­posal and all Democrats vot­ing against it ex­cept for North Woods Sen. Janet Bew­ley of Ash­land.

The As­sem­bly, how­ever, was more di­vided in its vote on the bill the week be­fore.

Four Repub­li­cans — Reps. Joan Ball­weg of Marke­san, Jesse Kre­mer of Ke­waskum, John Spiros of Marsh­field and Travis Tranel of Cuba City — joined most Democrats in vot­ing against the bill.

But four Democrats also voted for it: Reps. Steve Doyle of Onalaska, Don Vruwink of Mil­ton, and David Bowen and Jonathan Brostoff of Milwaukee.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.