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January 27, 2015

MADISON - Learn to Hunt just went lean and clean with a new electronic application form that saves applicants time and effort to organize an event.

"We've made a few tweaks to the Learn to Hunt website and forms," said Keith Warnke, hunting and shooting sports coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "We've tried to make the forms easier to fill out by eliminating unnecessary information and getting them directly where they're supposed to go. We'll be making big-picture website changes later this year. "

Warnke says if applicants are looking for the fastest service, complete, scan and then email the Learn to Hunt documents. There is one bigger change to the Learn to Hunt program this year.

"You must include customer IDs on the Learn to Hunt participant report form [PDF] in order to be reimbursed," Warnke says. "We need this information to collect data and administer programs. We can't track and analyze trends without them." Tracking Learn to Hunt participants by their customer ID numbers will result in greatly improved efficiency and effectiveness.

Great spots, great mentors

The process for hosting a Learn to Hunt event is simple. First, pick a date and location. Then, specify on the application whether the event is public or private. Public Learn to Hunt Events will be listed for sign up on the DNR website. Inviting everyone to participate in the training will help broaden the hunting community by helping to create new hunters. Listed on the DNR website and in other important sporting forums, these Learn to Hunts reach out across the state to novices and give them a chance to try something new. If a Learn to Hunt is already filled or not open to public sign up, check the private box.

With a productive location secured, applicants can then go about selecting approved and qualified mentors and having them submit a background check form from the DNR website.

"Approved and qualified mentors are essential to making Learn to Hunt events successful," Warnke said. "They are a crucial link for transmitting knowledge and ethics. A good mentor knows the ways of the woods and the ways of humans. Patience is a key quality in mentoring, especially as novices are usually unaccustomed to spending time quiet in the woods. Good mentors often have that intangible quality -- developed over years in the outdoors -- of knowing what will happen and when. All this helps make for great first hunts—and opens the door to a whole other world."

Keeping it local

After finding a spot and mentors, it's time to recruit new hunters. While children make up the bulk of Learn to Hunt participants, Warnke is seeing a greater number of adult hunters. "There's been a great deal of interest from the local food community. Hunting fits in well with people interested in sustainable living," Warnke says. "They supply the interest and we take it from there."

After the event, the next step in getting reimbursed for up to $25 per students. To receive reimbursement, those hosting the hunt must submit a Learn to Hunt Reimbursement Request along with a W-9 form and a Participant Report complete with customer IDs.

Once all the paperwork is done, the rest is up to Mother Nature. Good luck and hunt safe!

For details on hosting a Learn to Hunt event, search the DNR website, ", for keywords "Learn to Hunt."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke, 608-576 5243 or Kelly Maynard, 608-267-7438

Last Revised: Tuesday, January 27, 2015

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