A week ahead of Wisconsin’s nine-day gun deer hunting season was set to open, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill that would afford the right to hunt to anyone in the state, regardless of age.
The bill, supported by both Whitetails Unlimited and the National Rifle Association, did away with both the 12-year minimum age required to purchase a hunting license as well as minimum age required for mentored hunts.
Age is just a number
Up until the bill was put into effect on November 13, 2017, Wisconsin residents had to be at least 12 years of age to hunt with a gun. Otherwise, younger children (age 10 and above) were able to enroll in a mentored hunt which would allow them to hunt with a licensed hunter of at least 18 years of age. The participation in a mentored hunt meant that only one gun could be used between the two hunters and required both parties to remain within arm’s reach of one another.
While the decision came under fire by many who opposed the highly publicized rule change, Wisconsin is not the first state to allow children to hunt. Far from it.
In fact, thirty-four states across America also have no minimum hunting age including Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, New Mexico, Vermont, and others.
Let’s clear the air
If you’ve read about this anywhere, you have likely also been privy to the barrage of opposing comments surrounding the new legislation. While most are quick to assume that six-year-olds across America’s Dairyland are traipsing through the woods with large-caliber weapons completely unsupervised is completely false.
The fact is, the new law and similar laws in other states, require supervision by an adult-aged licensed and experienced hunter at all times. The only thing that has changed is the ability for both hunters to carry a firearm and take the shot themselves. That’s it.
The kids are alright
Six-year-old Lexie Harris was the first junior to break the internet under the new law. Heading out into the stand with her father, Tyler Harris – much the same as she had been doing since the age of three – was finally able to carry her own firearm.
Harris picked up a youth rifle for his daughter after news of the regulation change broke and had her in the range preparing for the impending gun deer season.
Nearly a week to the day after the legislation was signed into law, a six-point buck strolled out in front of the Harris’ stand and Lexie was able to steady herself under the guidance of her father, just enough to take a perfect shot on her first whitetail.