Governor Walker signs 4 bills, 1 eliminates minimum hunting age

MADISON – Governor Scott Walker signed four bills relating to hunting into law Saturday, November 11th at the Executive Residence. The bills include one that eliminates the minimum hunting age in Wisconsin.

Children of any age are allowed to hunt with guns under the bill. The bill allows people of any age to participate in a mentored hunt. The bill also allows hunters and mentors to have more than one weapon between them. 34 states have no minimum hunting age, according to the Wisconsin Hunters’ Rights Coalition.

Here is a look at the breakdown of each bill he signed:

Assembly Bill 528 – This bill restores a prohibition (from 2015 Act 100) revoked by 2017 Act 59, which eliminated deer carcass tags from being required under law and thereby re-legalized the harvest of antlerless deer by adults using a youth antlerless deer hunting license under group hunting circumstances. This bill re-establishes the 2015 Act 100 prohibition for adults from harvesting antlerless deer using a youth antlerless carcass tag under group hunting allowances.

Assembly Bill 455 – This bill eliminates the requirement that a person be at least ten years of age to hunt under the hunting mentorship program, leaving it up to parents to decide. The bill also eliminates the current limit of one (1) hunting device that a mentor and a mentee may have while hunting. They both may now carry hunting devices. Finally, the bill prohibits a person who is serving as a mentor in a group hunting party from killing a deer for the mentee or using a deer carcass tag issued to the mentee, in line with other statutes with youth hunting.

Senate Bill 225 – This bill extends the fall turkey, gray (Hungarian) partridge, and pheasant hunting and trapping seasons. These seasons currently close on December 31. The bill sets them as open through the Sunday nearest January 6 (including the New Year’s holiday weekend) and would statutorily prohibit variation. The bill changes the archer deer season. The season currently closes Sunday nearest January 6 (including the New Year's holiday weekend) except for six metro areas (Green Bay, Hudson, La Crosse, Madison, Milwaukee, and Superior). The metro areas are currently open through January 31. The bill sets the archer deer season as open through the Sunday nearest January 6 for metro areas in addition to all other areas and would statutorily prohibit variation.

Assembly Bill 323 - This bill defines woodchucks as “game animals" and “fur-bearing animals." As a result, a person may hunt woodchucks under the authority of a small game hunting license and trap woodchucks under a trapping license. Also under this bill as amended, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is required to establish a year-round open season for woodchucks. DNR may not impose a bag or possession limit for this season. This bill also, as amended, adds woodchucks to the list of species (beaver, rabbit, raccoons, and squirrels) that a landowner or occupant, and any member of his or her family, or an individual who has the landowner’s or occupant’s consent may take at any time by means of live trapping with box traps in areas where the discharge of a firearm is illegal.