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March 27, 2012

When I was a kid just starting to hunt, I spent a lot of time with a second cousin whose family, although from dairy farm, didn't hunt. My cousin wanted to try hunting and he put himself through hunter's education. I asked if he could join us hunting and, fortunately, my father agreed.

Fast forward a couple of decades.

My second cousin is part of one terrific camp I enjoy a lot. Whatever season it is, that's what camp we're part of. During duck season, it's duck camp. During deer season, of course, it's deer camp.

His boys are hunters now as are my girls, but that wouldn't have happened if my father hadn't invited him along and mentored him over several years until he was fully immersed in the hunting heritage.

This is your invitation to do the same thing. Protect and build our heritage. Invite a new hunter this spring. As of this writing, there are more than 55,000 spring turkey tags left available for purchase. This is a great opportunity to invite a neighbor, friend, or relative to join Wisconsin's hunting heritage.

As a hunter, you have the skills and knowledge gained by spending seasons in the woods and fields. You've sharpened your techniques over many years of practice. You have fostered the strongest conservation heritage in the nation. Now pass it on.

There are kids, adults, relatives, friends you know interested in hunting. Being a mentor is a reward in itself. You have a unique chance to pass along the skills and knowledge you have to a pretty captive audience. In today's world of high-speed 4G-everything, having the opportunity to take time to establish the bond and help a novice hunter understand the benefits of slowing down is critical to starting a new hunter.

Mentoring a new hunter is that opportunity. Anyone 10 or older can now hunt without first completing a hunter education course. I encourage you to mentor an adult. An adult hunter is likely to keep hunting and recruit new hunters.

A new hunter born after January 1, 1973, with a mentored hunting license must be accompanied by a licensed hunter, hunt within arm's reach of the mentor, hunt within the season dates and with a valid tag, and follow other rules. This one-on-one mentoring opportunity gives first-time hunters a chance to try hunting and enables veteran hunters to pass on their passion for the outdoors and help keep Wisconsin's hunting heritage strong.

For more information on mentoring a hunter, go to the DNR website and search "mentored hunting."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke, Hunting and Shooting Sport Coordinator, 608-576-5243; Joanne M. Haas, Bureau of Law Enforcement, 608-267-0798

Last Revised: Tuesday, March 27, 2012

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