2019 Learn to Hunt: Teaching the Next Generation of Waterfowlers

By Bruce Urben, President

This article originally appeared in Wisconsin Waterfowl Association’s November 2019 Newsletter edition.

Participants at WWA’s 2019 Learn to Hunt

Friday evening, October 18th was the kickoff of the 11th annual WWA Green Bay Chapter’s Learn to Hunt (LTH) Waterfowl Program. The Learn to Hunt Program was developed by the WDNR to help recruit new hunters that have not participated in the sport. The classroom at Pittsfield Trap Club near Pulaski, WI, host of our 2019 LTH, was filled with students and parents enrolled in the LTH program.

Twelve people participated in this year’s program with ten men and two women ranging in age from 10 to 56. They came from all walks of life – professionals, dentists, truck drivers, college students, middle school and high school students, all who have never hunted waterfowl before.

Classroom instruction at WWAs 2019 LTH

The Learn to Hunt kicks off with classroom instruction led by several Hunter Safety Instructors, with curriculum weighing heavily on the safety theme. Presentations included one by Scott Hyngstrom, Professor from UWSP College of Natural Resources, on waterfowl identification, another by a WDNR Warden Supervisor discussing hunter ethics and regulations and even a presentation on duck and goose calling by a professional caller from Buck Gardner Calls of Memphis, TN. All of the attendees were treated to a gift bag that included a duck or goose call, face paint and other gear. Although the calling demo was quite informative, most mentors asked their student to leave their calls at home for the next morning’s hunt!

Calling demos at WWAs 2019 LTH

The evening concluded at the trap range where each student, alongside their mentor, practiced shooting their firearm from positions they would encounter in the field the next morning. A number of attendees had never shot a firearm before and received expert instruction from our certified instructors and all became proficient in breaking clay pigeons before they left for the evening.

I know that most of the students didn’t sleep much that evening with the anticipation of the early morning hunt.

A 2019 LTH participant shows off the result of her hunt

This year’s attendees were excellent students and the results of their hunts were very successful. All of the participants enjoyed the adventure in the field and had opportunity with nine of our twelve participants successful in harvesting one or more ducks or geese. A total of seventeen geese and two ducks were harvested when they all met back at the trap club with their mentors to enjoy a picnic lunch and presentations. Stories were shared and the group was treated to a demonstration in cleaning a goose, shared recipes, and finally a demonstration in proper cleaning of their firearm. Most went home with a goose or duck or two, but all left with the knowledge and experience of waterfowling in Wisconsin and a beautiful north woods sunrise!

Waterfowl cleaning demo at the 2019 WWA LTH

This year’s group was one of the largest we have had in the past 11 years. With the help of our thirteen plus volunteer mentors, who are all seasoned and accomplished waterfowlers, we were able to take all twelve participants into the field. This year we had to turn away nine potential students who will hopefully have an opportunity to participate in next year’s program.

A special thanks goes out to Pittsfield Trap Club for the use of their facility, our sponsors who supplied food, drink or gear, Wouters’ Sports Bar and Grill, Super Ron’s grocery, Kay Distributing, Gander Outdoors, Hansen Pizza Co., and the Green Bay WWA Chapter Committee members.

Thanks is also due to our mentors, a number whom traveled from as far away as St. Germain, Sheboygan and Stevens Point, and to of all our local mentors, most who have been with us for 11 years!

The Learn to Hunt Program is one of the most fulfilling programs I have been involved with and I hear that same comment from each of our mentors every year. The energy and excitement of the attendees serves to motivate us all to continue.

And, as can be expected, the smiles on their faces says it all!

WWA looks forward to providing more LTH opportunities in other parts of the State in 2020, stay tuned for more information on our website at wisducks.org or through our newsletters!

Happy Hunting.

Thanks to all who donated to our 2019 Learn to Hunt in memory of Mr. Lawrence “Butch” Spaight, including Jim Holwerda, Jeffrey & Katherine Nelson, Conservation Wardens of the Northern Region, Carol Mast and Richard & Cathy Bauman.