Learning to hunt can be intimidating.
Wisconsin, it appears, has both covered. And, at least with the former, healthy eating, too.
Early this new year, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is tying together health and it’s Learn to Hunt Turkey event.
“Want to help those looking to improve health in the new year and promote conservation at the same time? Plan your spring Learn to Hunt Turkey event now,” the DNR said in a recent release.
In separate news also released Tuesday, the DNR announced that the Wisconsin Cooperative Trapper Education Program will be making a significant change to the correspondence course it offers: Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, the course will require a student to attend and pass an in-person field test after completing the standard homework and test mailed to them in order to receive a trapping license. The field test will be established this year, and details of the test, site locations and dates are being drawn up by the WCTEP committee and instructors. More information is expected to be available by mid-2016 at dnr.wi.gov/.
According to the WCTEP, the cutoff for not having to take the field test will be determined by when a test envelope is postmarked. If the postmark is dated 2016, individuals will receive a trapping license based on passing homework and the written test. If postmarked 2017, individuals will need to pass the field test in addition to the homework and written test.
Not all state natural resources agencies require a field test for such correspondence-type hunter and trapping education courses. They are, after all, correspondence courses. Still, hands-on, in-the-field experience is essential for young hunters and trappers. The more hands-on help beginners can receive, the better.
Such is the premise for the Learn to Hunt program in Wisconsin, which targets adults who are interested in hunting but, for whatever reason, haven’t had the opportunity to do so.
“Many adults who did not come from hunting families and are interested in hunting often have no idea how to start,” said Keith Warnke, DNR hunting and shooting sports coordinator. “These Learn to Hunt events are a great way for them to learn in a controlled and safe environment with an experienced hunter.”
Learn to Hunt events are for interested novices who would not otherwise have the chance to explore hunting, which Warnke adds is the key to successfully preserving the state’s conservation heritage. Recruiting and retaining new hunters along with re-engaging hunters who haven’t been out in a while is a priority for Wisconsin and the national hunting community as a whole, according to the DNR.
“Accountability and outcomes are key to success,” Warnke said. “By that, I mean asking ourselves if the program really created a new hunter; someone who would not otherwise have hunted.”
To do that, the DNR says it is recognizing an opportunity and providing a service to people interested in hunting, but lacking a pathway to begin.
“The composition of Learn to Hunt events has continued to evolve, with increasing focus on food,” Warnke said. “We have seen a big demand for our classes from young adults and I think it would be really easy for groups, clubs and mentors to copy our blueprint of reaching out to adults and families.”
Learn to Hunt events may be scheduled before, during or after the six spring turkey time periods. However, most are held in late March and early April.
More information on the Learn to Hunt program is available at dnr.wi.gov, keyword “LTH.” Also, for those interested in taking hunter education classes, more courses are being offered now than any other time of the year, the DNR said. Go to dnr.wi.gov, keyword “hunter safety” for more information.