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More youth hunters expected after law change in 2017

Posted: 8:06 AM, Nov 17, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-17 14:06:17Z

Gun deer season kicks off Saturday morning and this year, more youth hunters are expected to join in after the minimum age requirement for mentored licenses was eliminated last year by Gov. Scott Walker. 

Ben Britton says his 7-year-old son James isn't quite ready to hunt with a gun, so they've been using a crossbow. 

"We practiced all summer long with his crossbow," Britton said. "Once he was ready, we studied a lot of anatomy charts and when he felt he was ready, we went out and started hunting."

James has already harvested two deer this year. 

"It was extremely exciting," he said. 

"The way we set it up, the crossbow is set in a holder in the blinds," Britton said. "All he has to do is put it on target. There's no chance of anything falling or any danger."

According to the Wisconsin DNR, mentored licenses are now available at any age, but the mentor has to stay within arm's reach, be 18 or older and have completed a hunter education course. 

"I obviously carry the weapon in for him, set it up," Britton said. "Take the safety off only when he tells me he's on target and ready to take the shot."

The DNR says in 2017, it sold 15,081 mentored gun deer licenses to 10 and 11-year-old children. It also sold more than 1,200 archery licenses and more than 1,800 crossbow licenses. 

The DNR did not immediately have numbers available on children under the age of 10. 

"Every kid is different," Britton said. "Just because he's ready at this age doesn't mean every kid is ready."