The Hunting Mentorship program is now state law (SB-167). Wisconsin kids must be accompanied by an adult mentor, and adhere to other safety precautions, still, Senator Jim Holperin (D-Conover) acknowledges there's been some criticism of young children handling a deadly firearm.
"You know, ten-year-olds are just too young to be in the woods with a gun."
But, Holperin, co-sponsor of the legislation that reduces the legal hunting age, says that's an over-simplification of the issue.
"In those states which have a law like this — and many, many do, nearly all of the 50 states have either no age limit at all or some kind of supervised hunt — the statistics about injury are just negligable, hardly worth measuring."
Holperin says in other states, mentorship hunting has been a productive, safe teaching experience for youth, and he's confident Wisconsin will see the same outcome.
The newly-signed law states that the hunting mentor must be at least 18, the young hunter must be within arm's reach of the mentor, and only one weapon shared between the two of them. Holperin says it's necessary to get the next generation interested in hunting, in order to keep in check the state's deer population.
NOTE: The governor signed the bill into law on Thursday morning.