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March 15, 2011

Family-friendly way to introduce state's heritage to new hunters of all ages

MADISON -- The spring melt means it's time for hunters and clubs to share the fun and purpose of hunting with neighbors, relatives and friends at a Learn to Hunt turkey event that can be easily organized in a few steps.

"A Learn to Hunt event is a fun, safe and comfortable way to introduce one of Wisconsin's truest traditions to your friends, relatives - even entire families," said Keith Warnke, Department of Natural Resources' Hunting and Shooting Sport Coordinator.

"Hunting means many things in Wisconsin -- family traditions, wildlife management and a healthy way to live by eating sustainably. Plus, it can be great exercise," Warnke said.

The DNR has posted on its web site the processes and application forms sponsors need to organize a Learn to Hunt event. Sponsors will need to submit a completed application form to the local wildlife biologist for approval, and ensure at least one of the event instructors is a certified Hunter Education Instructor. "Instructors emphasize firearm safety," he said.

Warnke also says Learn to Hunt events provide the key opportunity for a novice hunter to experience hunting "in a one-on-one mentored situation." Mentors names must be submitted to the DNR for a background check at least two weeks before the hunt is to take place.

Another key step in the process is getting the approval and the signature of the landowner or tenant of the private property where the hunt is proposed to occur.

"The focus of these learn to hunt events is to provide this opportunity to those who otherwise likely would never have a hunting experience," Warnke said. "Organizers may want to contact the local schools, civic groups and organizations such as Big Brother/Big Sisters and the YMCA/YWCA."

The DNR started the Learn to Hunt program in 1998 to provide youth and adults opportunities to experience a hunt with an experienced hunter. Hunts are combined with classroom instruction and field work before an actual hunt. More than 3,000 novice hunters in the past two years have gone to a Learn to Hunt event.

In addition to turkey, the program also includes small game, pheasant, wild turkey, upland game, waterfowl and deer. A Novice and Youth Hunting Opportunities bochure [PDF 260KB] is available on the DNR website.

"Hunters have shown they are willing to rise to many challenges," Warnke said. "I am confident they will eagerly embrace the challenge of passing along these great traditions to the next generation."

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

Last Revised: Tuesday, March 15, 2011

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