From the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
-- Participants in Wisconsin’s first Hunting Heritage Conference met over the weekend to share ideas about broadening participation in the state’s hunting heritage. The DNR invited representatives of local and statewide hunting and conservation organizations to the first ever event.
About 115 hunting enthusiasts from mentors to safety instructors gathered Feb. 19-20 at the Stoney Creek Inn to explore ideas about building the state’s hunting future for generations.
The conference was funded by a grant from the National Shooting Sports Foundation and The Hunting Heritage Partnership. The grant provided funding to cover the complete cost of those attending the two-day conference.
“Wisconsin is a great hunting state with a wide range of hunting opportunities for both novice and experienced hunters,” Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank said. “We cannot take our hunting tradition for granted. We are looking to build on our past efforts to work with young people as well as adults who have never had an opportunity to hunt. If we want our next generation not only to enjoy our natural resources but to become future conservationists, we need to think creatively and build upon our past efforts.”
The conference focused on educating and training experienced mentors in passing on their knowledge to the next generation of Wisconsin hunters through the DNR’s popular Learn to Hunt program. In 2009, the Learn to Hunt Program had more than 1,500 participants in the turkey, pheasant, deer and waterfowl programs.
“We are very proud of our Learn to Hunt program,” Frank said. “We are looking for ways to build mentor participation in this program and expand it to youth from all ethnic backgrounds.” Find more information about the program at http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/wildlife/hunt/learnhunt.htm
The conference also featured researchers from the University of Wisconsin-System who shared their research designs on recruiting hunters and testing the effects of social networking and new media technologies to promote hunting. The conference focused on hunter recruitment and retention, networking between organizations and sharing the best practices for hosting successful Learn to Hunt Programs.
DNR Deputy Conservation Warden Benjamin Mott said another goal was to make sure clubs understand how they can receive reimbursement for conducting Learn to Hunt Programs.
The Learn to Hunt Program is designed to help inexperienced hunters, both youth and adults, have a high quality, safe, and rewarding first-time hunt under the guidance of qualified Hunter Education instructors and hunting mentors. Participants receive both classroom and field instruction prior to an actual hunt.
The DNR hopes to make the conference an annual event. For more information, contact Benjamin Mott, Deputy Conservation Warden, Madison, telephone (608) 444-1244 or Todd Schaller, Conservation Warden, Madison at (608) 267-2774.