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June 14, 2011

DNR shooting sports coordinator sets goal of 2,000 new participants for 2011

Here's a thought for Wisconsin hunters: Picture your kids' teachers, your hair stylist, grocery store clerk, doctor, or neighbor kid enjoying their first hunt. You can make it a reality and help preserve a Wisconsin tradition, and the Department of Natural Resources will help.

It's an exciting time to be in sports, rod and gun and conservation clubs. Club members have a focused sense of purpose and challenge -- find the next generation of hunters. Think about recruiting participants from your community. Reach beyond the local hunter education class to other adult friends and their children.

Hunting offers an opportunity to meet new people, exercise, connect with nature, spend quality time with family and friends, and have the opportunity to bring home high quality food. Let's share it and see if we can introduce hunting to at least 2,000 new people this year. I know a lot of hunters who want to help, and I think we can do it.

The reality facing hunting in Wisconsin and other states is the majority of participants are Baby Boomer generation, marching through middle age into their 60s with reduced participation in the more recent generations. The gradual loss of the hunting population threatens to reduce the relevance of hunting to our strong conservation community.

In the challenge there is also opportunity -- all those baby boomers also represent an army of qualified mentors for the next decade. Wisconsin citizens recognize the importance of hunters to conservation in our state and they strongly support us. It's up to us as hunters - as well as business organizations, youth groups, churches and neighborhood organizations -- to make sure that great tradition continues.

A good way to introduce people to hunting is a Learn to Hunt event. Nearly 1,000 joined a Learn to Hunt turkey event this past spring. If your group hosted an event, make sure you send in the final roster to the DNR at Learn to Hunt Coordinator LE/8, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI, 53707.

The processes and application forms sponsors need to organize a Learn to Hunt event are available on the DNR website. Sponsors should work closely with the local wildlife biologist or warden when planning an event, and ensure at least one of the event instructors is a certified Hunter Education Instructor. Remember, this opportunity is open to novice hunters of all ages. Consider planning an event for parents who don't hunt and include their children.

Mentors are screened by the DNR using background checks at least two weeks before the hunt. There is also a reimbursement program through which groups can receive $25 per novice hunter to help cover the costs of hosting a learn-to-hunt event. If you are interested in hosting an event or have any questions about LTH, see the DNR website: or contact Warnke at the number below.

The DNR initiated the Learn to Hunt program in 1998 to provide novice hunters of all ages opportunities to experience a hunt with an experienced hunter. It does involve 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, waterfowl, bear, and deer.

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

Last Revised: Tuesday, June 14, 2011

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