There was testimony at the Capitol Wednesday, on a bill that would allow children as young as age ten to hunt with an adult. This is the third time the so-called mentored hunting legislation ( AB-22 ) has been offered in Wisconsin, and while the proposal is supported by sporting groups and the DNR, it's also opposed by some hunters.
Joe Slattery of Green Bay, whose eighth grade son was killed by another young hunter, testified against the proposal. Slattery told committee members that he'd trust them to take their kids hunting. "I think everybody in this room probably is passionate enough, and I would trust your kids out there in a heartbeat," said Slattery. "I think they made it twelve for a reason, I think lowering it is going to increase the problems, and you're going to end up killing kids. Go out to the average bar on the Friday before deer hunting season. Those people are going to have their kids out there, too. Thats' a problem."
Twelve is currently the youngest age at which children in Wisconsin may go hunting, but Assembly Fish and Wildlife Committee chair, Representative Ann Hraychuck, is confident the sport can be safe for ten year olds. "I feel that we have taken all the precautions necessary to make this an extremely safe program," Hraychuck said. "And the statistics from around the United States show that this is a safe program."
"The bottom line is that the mentoring program called for in this bill is a highly controlled situation, and will provide the student with a highly safe, quality hunting experience," said Wisconsin Wildlife Federation President George Meyer. The legislation would also allow adults who've never taken hunter safety education to participate in mentored hunts, with hunters who have completed that class.