Wednesday, November 15, 2017

WI: Restrictions on Hunter Age Repealed

Hunter holding ruffed grouse

The Wisconsin legislature continues to reform old hunting and gun laws. Most states do not impose a limit on the age at which people can start hunting. Wisconsin was one of those few.  For millennium, hunters were started hunting when their parents thought they were mature enough to do so.

Wisconsin has returned to that tradition. The reform allows parents to take their children hunting at ages less than 10. Children are individuals and highly variable. Some children will be responsible and capable of instruction at less than 10. Other children may remain irresponsible all of their lives.  Parents are in a far better position to determine children's capacities than the government is.
Gov. Scott Walker signed four sportsman bills Saturday, including Assembly Bill 455 , which will allow children of any age to hunt with guns.

The bill also eliminates the current limit of one hunting device that a mentor and a mentee may have while hunting.

Thirty-four states have no minimum hunting age, according to the Wisconsin Hunters' Rights Coalition.
Bill AB 455 passed the Wisconsin Assembly 57 to 32. It passed the Senate 21 to 12. It was signed into law on November 11, 2017, in time for the Wisconsin deer season that starts on 18 November this year. Here is the relevant text of AB 455.  From
            Section 3. 29.592 (1) (intro.) of the statutes is amended to read:
7        29.592 (1) (intro.) A person who is at least 10 years of age may hunt in this state  
8        without obtaining a certificate of accomplishment under s. 29.591 and may, while 
9       hunting, possess or control a firearm if all of the following apply: 
10       Section 4. 29.592 (3) of the statutes is repealed.
Responsibility is something that comes with practice. The more responsibility a child is given, the more responsible they become.  In much of the United States, giving a child the responsibility to handle a firearm safely is a rite of passage. It does not happen instantaneously. Parents must observe and make judgments. Parents instruct their children first, or have a trusted family friend mentor them. The parent or friend accompany them on early hunts to insure safety. Only after they have shown themselves to be responsible, are they allowed to hunt alone.

I learned gun handling and hunting from my Father, first by accompanying him while hunting, then hunting with my siblings and alone. Safety rules were drilled into me with clear discipline.

Many young people have little opportunity to learn to hunt, because they live in urban environments. I introduce young people to hunting when I have the opportunity.  If you have the chance, act as a mentor to a young hunter. Teaching someone to hunt is often more rewarding than hunting by yourself.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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