ROTHSCHILD – Department of Natural Resources Secretary Matt Frank congratulated and thanked the participants of the first Hunting Heritage Conference who met over the weekend to share ideas about broadening participation in the state’s hunting heritage.
The conference was funded by a grant from the National Shooting Sports Foundation and The Hunting Heritage Partnership. The grant provided funding to cover the complete cost of those attending the two-day conference.
The Department of Natural Resources invited representatives of local and statewide hunting and conservation organizations to the first ever event. About 115 hunting enthusiasts from mentors to safety instructors gathered at the Stoney Creek Inn for the two-day conference devoted to exploring ideas about building the state’s hunting future for generations to come.
“Wisconsin is a great hunting state with a wide range of hunting opportunities for both novice and experienced hunters,” Frank said. “But we cannot take our hunting tradition for granted. We are looking to build on our past efforts to work with young people as well as adults who have never had an opportunity to hunt. If we want our next generation not only to enjoy our natural resources but to become future conservationists, we need to think creatively and build upon our past efforts.”
The Feb. 19-20 conference focused on educating and training experienced mentors in passing on their knowledge to the next generation of Wisconsin hunters through the DNR’s popular Learn to Hunt program. DNR records show that in 2009, the Learn to Hunt Program had more than 1,500 participants in the turkey, pheasant, deer and waterfowl programs.
“We are very proud of our Learn to Hunt program, which has had the strong support of local conservation groups and volunteer instructors who work with our staff,” Frank said. “We are looking for ways to build mentor participation in this program – and expand it to more youth – boys and girls – from all ethnic backgrounds.”
The conference also featured researchers from the University of Wisconsin-System who shared their research designs on recruiting hunters and testing the effects of social networking and new media technologies to promote hunting.
“The main goals of the conference were to build community around the issue of hunter recruitment and retention; to facilitate networking between organizations; and, to share best practices for hosting successful Learn to Hunt Programs,” DNR Deputy Conservation Warden Benjamin Mott said of the event he helped coordinate. “And another main goal was to make sure clubs understand how they can receive reimbursement for conducting Learn to Hunt Programs.”
The Learn to Hunt Program is designed to help inexperienced hunters, both youth and adults, have a high quality, safe, and rewarding first-time hunt under the guidance of qualified Hunter Education instructors and hunting mentors. Participants receive both classroom and field instruction prior to an actual hunt.
Frank said the DNR hopes to make the conference an annual event.
Article Source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Benjamin Mott, Deputy Conservation Warden, Madison: (608) 444-1244; Todd Schaller, Conservation Warden, Madison: (608) 267-2774