On the heels of a law change that eliminated the state’s minimum hunting age, 10 Wisconsin hunting licenses were sold this month to children under the age of 1, according to data released Tuesday (Nov. 28) by the Department of Natural Resources.
It’s not known whether any of the infants actually participated in any way in the hunt.
The documents could have been purchased as mementos for the youngsters.
Or they could have been used to register a deer killed by another hunter. The low-priced, first-time mentored hunting licenses carry all the harvest authorizations of a similar adult license.
One deer was registered to a 4-year-old hunter, and seven deer were registered to 5 year olds, according to DNR records The harvest records don’t indicate who killed the deer.
In all, 52 hunting licenses were purchased this month for hunters ages 5 and under, according to the DNR.
And 1,722 mentored gun hunting licenses were purchased for those 9 and under.
A state law signed Nov. 11 by Gov. Scott Walker eliminated the state’s minimum hunting age. In addition, the law now allows adult mentors and mentees to have multiple guns or bows.
The previous law set a minimum age of 10 and allowed only one firearm or bow.
In some states with no minimum hunting age, some adults are known to purchase hunting licenses for toddlers or even the unborn and mount them as keepsakes.
In some cases, the purchase is part of a strategy to begin accumulating preference points for restricted opportunities.
In Wisconsin, no preference points are needed for deer, however.
And since the state stopped issuing paper licenses and backtags in recent years, the license is purchased as a digital authorization.
State officials declined to speculate on why the licenses were purchased for hunters too young to walk.
The 2017 Wisconsin gun deer season was one of the safest on record, with seven shooting incidents, all non-fatal. None of the incidents involved a young hunter participating under the mentored hunting law.