Residents of any age, no matter how young, could legally hunt in Wisconsin under a bill the state Assembly passed that eliminates the state's minimum hunting age, the AP reports. Currently, a resident must be at least 12 years old to purchase a hunting license or hunt with a gun unless they're participating in a mentored hunt. Children as young as 10 can hunt under that program. The Republican-authored bill would allow people of any age to participate in a mentored hunt, effectively letting anyone hunt. The measure also would eliminate the requirement that a hunter and mentor have only one weapon between them. Thirty-four other states already have no minimum hunting age, according to the Wisconsin Hunters' Rights Coalition.
The GOP-controlled Assembly passed the bill 57-32 Thursday, despite complaints from Democrats that the measure would put guns in the hands of young children and put everyone in the woods in danger. "It's just crazy (the minimum age) would go below 10," Rep. Gary Hebl said. "Absolute insanity that we're talking about giving a kid a gun at any age." Republicans countered that parents should decide when children are old enough to handle weapons. The bill's author, Rep. Rob Stafsholt, told reporters that not every hunter uses high-powered rifles and he believed he was capable of handling a .22-caliber rifle when he was 8 years old. "We're returning the choice to the parent," said Stafsholt, who said his daughter killed a bear at age 11. The measure now goes to the state Senate, which plans to vote on it Tuesday.