Years ago, we discussed a type of race to the bottom as states outdid each other in lowering the age for hunters. South Dakota lowered the age for hunting licenses to 10. Now Wisconsin is moving into toddler territory with a bill that would allow any age to hunt.
The bill would outright eliminate Wisconsin’s minimum hunting age, which currently stands at 12. The new bill would allow any age to hunt and would even eliminate the rule that a hunter and “mentor” have only one firearm between them. In doing so, the state would join 34 other states without a minimum age.
These laws create an interesting problem in torts as to how to treat hunting for liability purposes. We have often discussed hunting torts and the concept of “Buck Fever” or in this case Big Foot fever. For a prior column, click here.
While there is an objective standard of reasonableness for all adults under negligence, the common law has long recognized a different standard for children that considers the age, maturity, and experience of the child. One exception, however, is when the child is engaged in an adult activity. In such a case, the child is subject to the adult standard. Thus, if a child hit you with a car, he is treated under the reasonable driver’s standard, not the reasonable child driving a car standard.