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Effort to allow 10-year-olds to hunt revived

A plan being considered by Assembly lawmakers allows kids as young as 10 to go hunting with a mentor in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin's current legal hunting age is 12.

Under the new plan, any 10- or 11-year old kids who go hunting would have to stay within arm's length of an adult mentor at all times.

The adult and child would only be able to use one gun between them.

The state Department of Natural Resources officially took no position at a public hearing, but the DNR's Tim Lawhern spoke highly of the plan.

Lawhern heads up the DNR's Hunter Education program and thinks hunter safety will only improve if this becomes law because the students will come to the instructors with a little more experience, a little less fear of guns, a little more excitement about learning and a little more knowledge.

Lawhern says kids under 16 who hunt with mentors are statistically the safest in Wisconsin.

Joe Slattery of Green Bay says lowering the hunting age would be a mistake. His 14-year-old son was killed two years ago in a hunting accident by a 12-year-old hunter.

The boys were hunting together with family. While he's not in favor of raising the hunting age, he says if the age is lowered, incidents like what he related will happen more often.

Ten and 11-year old kids who hunt with mentors under this plan would not have to take a hunter education course first.

A similar plan failed in the Legislature last session. The key difference is that proposal would have lowered the hunting age to 8.