May 5, 2015
MADISON - The 2015 youth turkey hunt, held April 11-12 statewide and other Learn to Hunt turkey opportunities throughout March and early April have continued to provide a great opportunity for people interested in the outdoors to learn more about hunting and its important role in conservation.
Each year, youth hunting events give hunters ages 10 to 15 an opportunity to gain valuable experience while they receive guidance from a mentor in the field. This year, Corinne and Peter Magnoni from Waterloo, Wis. opened their property to two youth hunters in search of their first wild turkey. Their goal was simple: to promote hunting and provide for a safe and educational weekend.
"It's great to see kids and those who wouldn't typically have an opportunity to hunt getting a chance to experience these things up close," said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. "I would like to personally thank Corinne and Peter, as well as every other mentor and landowner in these programs, for helping to ensure generations to come develop an appreciation for all of the great resources Wisconsin has to offer."
While the excitement of the hunt would have likely been enough to make the weekend a success, both hunters harvested their first turkey.
Paul Hanrahan (center) harvested a 23-pound jake with a four-inch beard with help from Magnioni (left) and his father and mentor, Tom (right).
Corinne Magnoni Photo
On the first day of the youth hunt, Paul Hanrahan, age 14, from Lake Mills, Wis. shot a jake with his bow. On hand to witness Paul's success was his father and mentor, Tom, and Peter Magnoni.
The next day, Alexandria Xiong, age 13, from Milwaukee shot a tom with a 12-gauge shotgun with help from her father, Shane, and fellow mentor, Andrew Holtz.
Alexandria Xiong harvested a 23-pound tom with a six-inch beard with help from Magnioni (left), her father Shane (center) and fellow mentor, Andrew (right).
Corinne Magnoni Photo
While not every youth hunter is able to harvest a turkey, the learning experience provided by mentors, coupled with opportunities created by landowners can help create a lifelong appreciation for wildlife and the outdoors.
"Introducing a child to the hunting tradition can be a springboard to a lifetime of great adventures," said Krista McGinley, DNR assistant upland wildlife ecologist. "It's so important to make these first experiences both safe and comprehensive, and we applaud all those who contribute to our educational efforts. Their help is truly invaluable."
Youth hunts provide opportunities for younger generations, but hunters of all ages can experience a mentored hunt. Interested hunters age 10 or older and accompanied by a licensed hunter can now obtain a hunting license without first completing a hunter education course. Mentored hunters must be within arm's reach of a mentor and follow all rules and regulations.
For hunters looking to receive hands-on training before entering the woods, a series of Learn to Hunt events are scheduled each year throughout the state. These events combine classroom instruction and field work and are a great way to introduce someone new to Wisconsin's hunting heritage.
Jaime Hogberg, an adult student in the Learn to Hunt Wild Turkey for Food course held in March in Madison, had a memorable first turkey hunt with her mentor, John Podebradsky. In only two mornings worth of hunting on private land near Oregon, Wis., Hogberg and Podebradsky saw over 50 turkeys and a host of native and migrating bird species.
"The turkeys put on quite a show for us, including some pretty goofy and rambunctious jakes, a curious and frustrated hen that came in at our decoy, and several tom's strutting around in and out of view," said Hogberg. "We were very lucky to have them pass by within range several times, and I had the opportunity to shoot a couple times."
She took an unsuccessful shot at a tom, but will not let that dampen her spirits as she gets ready for another hunting season. "I will be dreaming about that lucky tom and practicing my shooting skills until the fall season!"
People interested in receiving email updates and other information regarding Learn to Hunt and mentored hunting events and opportunities, can visit the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page to "subscribe for updates for DNR topics." Follow the prompts and select "Learn To Hunt" and "mentored hunting" within the "hunting" list.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kelly Maynard, DNR Learn to Hunt coordinator, 608-267-7438; Sawyer Briel, DNR communications, 608-282-5334