WDNR Learn to Hunt Waterfowl:
As with all WDNR Learn to Hunt programs, this effort encourages potential participants to “try it out”, experiencing a condensed educational session, including firearms handling & safety, hunting traditions & skill-sets, and quarry biology, followed by an actual hand-on hunting experience, while paired one-on-one, with an experienced mentor. To see the department’s current information on the program click here.
WWA has significant organizational experience in establishing Learn to Hunt Waterfowl programs, and each year has offered one or more of these opportunities during the fall hunting seasons, depending on mentor availability. Although the program is often misconstrued as a program for youths, in fact, anyone who has not yet hunted for waterfowl is eligible as a beginner, and novice adults are encouraged to consider participating – they are the best positioned candidates to be able to continue on in the pursuit, if they find they enjoy it!
Mentees can expect to receive a real-world primer on what it means to be a waterfowler in the 21st century, and receive expert insights on how to enjoy the experience of pursuing our beautiful migratory waterfowl as they partake in the “grand passage” that occurs each fall, as they move south, ahead of the coming winter. Mentors report they find great satisfaction in sharing their experience & knowledge with a willing audience, while helping ensure the future of the sport and traditions they hold dear, by introducing another generation of participants, and opening the door for someone who might not have the opportunity to “learn the ropes” in the way that many did in the past, due to our increasingly urbanized populations, changing demographic patterns, and reduced access to places to hunt, even here in our Wisconsin.
For current information on upcoming Learn to Hunt Waterfowl opportunities, go to the Events page, and search in the months of September and October, as these are the key months for these opportunities. If you’re interested in hosting a new Learn to Hunt Waterfowl event, or becoming a mentor on a LTH team, please contact us.
WWA Historical Perspectives on Learn to Hunt…
2013 WDNR Learn to Hunt Waterfowl at Horicon Marsh
Through a great partnership with the WI Department of Natural Resources and US Fish & Wildlife Service, WWA had roughly 50 people of all ages pass through the 2013 Horicon Learn to Hunt Waterfowl Program (LTH). We had participants from all over the state, and even some from the Chicago area, participate in this educational opportunity. 2013 also brought several folks who had not only never hunted before, but had never thought that they would ever have any interest in hunting. Apparently the ever-increasing popularity of getting back to our roots and harvesting wild game for sustenance has changed many’s viewpoint of the act of hunting.
Everyone who participated in the LTH expressed their great enjoyment of the process and how the program was conducted, as well as the environment of the hunt. The LTH hunts allow the beginner or novice the opportunity to participate in a hunt in a semi – controlled environment with a seasoned mentor providing a stress free and safe experience. With the Federal Government shutdown this past fall, we were forced scramble at the last minute to accommodate more hunters on the state side of the Horicon Marsh and the WI DNR staff involved with the program handled this seamlessly. While the weather was not always cooperative or conducive to waterfowl hunting – we experienced hot, sunny, clear blue skis and/or thunderstorms – and made some days challenging, compared to the extreme drought conditions experienced in 2012, we think this year was a great success. WWA would also like to sincerely thank the Dodge County Sportsman’s Alliance, Field and Stream Sportsman Club and Harold Drake for their contributions to the event.
More history on our program…
In 2009, WWA’s Green Bay Chapter held the first ever Learn to Goose Hunt (LTH) program in Wisconsin at the Pittsfield Trap Club. Even though not all six first-time hunters were successful in harvesting geese, they all had a great time and took home some valuable insight into the hunting world, provided by all of their LTH mentors. In 2015, the GB Chapter team celebrated their 7th annual Learn to Hunt event, with the mentees experiencing a variety of scenarios: from field hunting to layout hunting on the Bay, with eight participants, made up of youth and adult first-timers.
Want to learn more about the Green Bay chapter’s Learn to Hunt experiences? Check out this article from the July/August 2017 edition of Badger Sportsman Magazine, by WWA board president, Bruce Urben: Training Future Waterfowlers
These are all examples of the type of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) LTH programs that WWA is seeking to expand statewide. In 2010, the Green Bay Chapter’s event expanded their program to twelve new hunters. In addition, WWA’s Chippewa Valley (Eau Claire) and St. Croix Valley (Hudson) Chapters each held their first LTH Waterfowl Programs in 2010.
WWA was among a select group of four conservation groups in the state who were accepted into a 2011 test program designed to help expand participation in the WI DNR Learn to Hunt program. During the test program we were able to double the amount of WDNR Learn to Hunt waterfowl volunteer mentor teams/events over what we had in previous years. From 2011 to 2013, we hosted the large format, multiple date program, as described above, at the famed Horicon Marsh, as well as smaller events in other communities.
Running a Learn to Hunt is an exciting challenge for any group of volunteers, but by partnering with WWA, we can help smooth out the path for you. We have experienced team members who can assist you in the development process, and help you navigate the pitfalls that can face newer mentor teams. Interested? Contact us, and we’ll get you started on your journey to hosting a new, exciting Learn to Hunt event for new potential hunters in your area!
A LTH participant takes aim during the WWA St. Croix Valley Chapter’s Learn to Hunt event during the Fall of 2010