Connections with food bond new and seasoned hunters

MADISON — Have a favorite wild turkey recipe that’s ready to be shared with new hunters? Share it during a spring Learn to Hunt Turkey event where food always is a major theme.

Learn to hunt events are about harvesting food by also learning how to hunt with a mentor.
Learn to hunt events are about harvesting food by also learning how to hunt with a mentor.
Photo Credit: DNR

“Food is a great way for new and experienced hunters to bond,” said Keith Warnke hunting and shooting coordinator for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “It’s the perfect bridge.”

Learn to hunt events are about harvesting food by also learning how to hunt with a mentor. Novices learn practical skills, such as gun handling and game cleaning, and get a primer in biology, regulations and ethics.

“Many adults who did not come from hunting families and are interested in hunting often have no idea how to start,” Warnke said. “These learn to hunt events are a great way for them to learn in a controlled and safe environment with an experienced hunter. If you are interested in a new and rewarding experience, give me a call.”

Winter: Ideal time to plan spring Learn to Hunt turkey event

Learn to Hunt events truly are for interested novices who would not otherwise have the chance to explore hunting which, Warnke says, is key to successfully preserving our conservation heritage. Eating nutritious and tasty wild game has always been a pivotal part of this heritage.

Another potential benefit of the Learn to Hunt goes to the experienced hunter whose passion for the outdoor activity may be recharged by serving as a mentor during an event, or organizing an event to share expertise with enthusiastic novices.

Eating and hunting are natural partners

Recruiting and retaining new hunters, along with reengaging hunters who have not enjoyed the outdoors in a while, is a high priority for the state’s and the national hunting community.

Learn to hunt events are one way to do this because they link the state’s hunting heritage with food – particularly local and sustainable food that can be enjoyed through hunting.

“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 periods. However, most are held in late March and early April. Interested individuals and clubs are urged to start organizing the events now to complete the necessary steps.

The department has made it easy for sponsors to organize learn to hunt events with on-line applications, reimbursement opportunities, assistance in finding event insurance and event promotions on the DNR’s website.

Sponsors will need to:

  • Submit a completed application form to the local wildlife biologist for approval; and,
  • Should make sure at least one of the event instructors is a certified Hunter Education Instructor.

Mentors assisting in the event will need to:

  • Submit an application to be a mentor.

Following the event, sponsors must:

  • Submit a report of event participants; and,
  • May apply for a $25 reimbursement per participant to assist with event costs.

In addition, Warnke says the program will help promote events by posting them on the Learn to Hunt page of the DNR website and the Hunter’s Network Facebook page.

More information on the Learn to Hunt program is available on the DNR website, keyword “LTH.”

Interested in taking hunter education? More courses being offered now than other times of year, search for keywords “hunter safety.”