Tote’n Toddlers: Wisconsin Moves To Lower Age For Hunting To 10 Years

b4557d00df551803b2d431808e822aae--photos-vintage-antique-photosYears 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.

32 thoughts on “Tote’n Toddlers: Wisconsin Moves To Lower Age For Hunting To 10 Years”

  1. Why is it that our Reps think they can draft a law that can be equally applied to everyone?
    I started the grand kids young, bought a couple Daisy’s and taught them how to shoot safely.
    Moved the 9yr old up to my 22 Browning lever action, and again drilled safety rules.

    1. Why don’t you take a stroll through a lion pride in Africa or grizzly bear country in Alaska. Have you seen that one-armed surfer girl who encountered a friendly shark…he just wanted to shake hands/fins upon meeting, right? Oh no, even better, let one of those Arctic polar bears come within sniffing distance of you out on an ice hike. Be sure to get video, K?

  2. What comes after World War II?

    World War III.

    It might be wise to pre-develop post-apocalyptic skill sets.

  3. I am thinking about that political cartoon where they have a libertarian on one side, and wartorn-anarchy Somalii on the other. Both are spouting the same rhetoric. My cousin died as a teenager from an accidental discharge in the cab of a pick up truck on a hunting expidition. You reap what you sow esp. when you institutionalize it into law, Wisconsin.

  4. Besides the fact responsible hunting parents already teach their children gun safety, they are also teaching them to hunt responsibly. Lowering or eliminating the minimum age to hunt will increase revenue by requiring those younger hunters to obtain licenses and permits.

  5. In the US men have always taught their sons at a very young age to enjoy killing. That doesn’t happen in more advanced countries, or any other country that I know of.

    1. Chris Bacon – ever hear of the English aristocracy? Or how about French peasants who are taught at an early age to trap and eat little bunny rabbits? The Japanese hunted boar for sport. The Egyptians spent a significant amount of time hunting wild animals by chariot.

    2. “In the US men have always taught their sons at a very young age to enjoy killing. That doesn’t happen in more advanced countries, or any other country that I know of.”

      What are you talking about? Entire villages in Japan come out to make a day of slaughtering dolphins in coves. They have dog meat festivals in China. (Eek to both of the former!) Many other countries hunt. Plus there are farms, with the requisite slaughter, all around the worlds.

      In addition, killing an animal for food is not done for the purpose of enjoying killing. A hunter kills to eat, and experiences satisfaction in successfully getting meat. The farmer kills livestock to sell for food and make a living. That does not make anyone a psychopath or someone who tortures puppies, anymore than a fisherman is some sort of repugnant human being. A fisherman feels happy when he catches a big fish. It’s hard to find just the right spot, right lure, right time, right luck. And when you catch that whopper, it’s something to be proud of for a fisherman. That pride is not some sort of joy in the fish’s pain or death, but pride in catching dinner. For the catch and release set, they feel accomplishment in their skill.

  6. Paul C Schulte, that’s exactly what I remember. My father had a pick up truck and Sometimes I’d ride in the back.

    1. Independent Bob – loved riding in the back of my friends’ pick-ups. There is that thrill of the near-death experience. 🙂

    1. Dave137 – if you can find someone to sell a rifle to a zygote, let me know. 😉

        1. Jay S – I would think the background check would be a bit difficult. 😉

    2. hunting is very pro-life.

      Good for you Dave. I impressed you made the connection between our natural right to life and our 2nd amendment needed to secure it. Keep up the good work.

  7. I don’t remember an age limit when I grew up. We also didn’t have seatbelts on our bench seat cars. It is amazing how many of us survived. Very few of my classmates went deer hunting in grade-school, but most of the males went in high school. Opening day of deer season, half the high school was missing, including teachers.

  8. I wouldn’t characterize this as a race to the bottom. People need to eat. Hunting is a basic human function. Men have been taking their sons hunting for hundreds of thousands of years before there were any sort of statutory laws dictating an age when individuals are permitted to find food. They took their children for the hunt when their fathers believed they were ready.

    In nearly everything, individuals perform better as adults if they are started with proper training earlier in life than instead waiting until they reach adulthood to begin their studies. This goes for piano playing, driving, or shooting guns. People who start driving at 21 years old make for terrible drivers. The same can be often said for those who shoot or hunt as well.

    At some point government needs to just defer to the sensibilities of ordinary people to raise their children without outside regulation.

    1. Food is totally not why men slaughter and destroy beautiful animals. Many men enjoy killing more than any other activity. They talk all year about what, where, how, and with whom they want to go killing. They take photos with the carcass of whatever they have killed and feel proud to have destroyed lives. Many, if not most who enjoy killing and causing intense suffering, dislike eating what they kill. The part of killing they dislike most is trying to give away what they kill and nobody wanting it. Meat in the grocery store is cheaper, safer, and tastier and smart people are increasingly vegan.

      1. Chris Bacon – where I grew up you were supposed to bag at least one deer a year and that added to the meat for the winter supply. Residents got 2 deer and an elk on their resident license each year. The only time I saw pictures is if someone got a really big rack on a buck by accident. Other than that, you were hunting for meat not racks.

        BTW, smart people know they are omnivores, not vegans.

      2. You should try listening to yourself once in a while. You complain about how horrid and depraved hunters are and how they “destroyed lives” and then you go straight into declaring that meat from a grocery store is so fabulous. Have you ever seen what occurs in most factory slaughterhouses? What kind of humane acts occur there, especially to satisfy your need to have cheaper food? Safer? I suppose having cows wallowing around in feces in cattle yards where disease is plentiful is much preferable to an elk living a comparatively clean life in the woods. I suppose to you the slaughterhouse salmonella adds to the flavor.

      3. Many, if not most who enjoy killing and causing intense suffering, dislike eating what they kill. The part of killing they dislike most is trying to give away what they kill and nobody wanting it.

        Your emotions on this subject have completely blinded your judgment. I’ll stand corrected when you provide your source to back up your statements.

      4. You write as though you do not know any hunters. Yes, they share, but so do avid gardeners. All the hunters I know have freezes stocked with venison when they bag a deer and they are glad to use it all year.

        Meat in the grocery has been, by and large, raised in a CAFO, fed antibiotics because of the unsanitary conditions, fed ground up skittles, and stands in or above a pool of its own feces.

        Also, the hunters I know do try to kill the deer quickly (they do not enjoy suffering and stress ruins the meat, BTW).

      5. They’re better than you are, and more capable and courteous. They’ll always be better than you are, no matter how much spew you employ trying to impugn their character.

      6. The state encourages and regulates hunting because it enhances rather than depletes these animal resources. Without it many would die from overpopulation, disease and starvation decimating the herd. You’ve been propagandized into emoting rather than thinking ,

      7. I’ve never known a hunter who exhibited any of the characteristics that you deem common.

        As for meat in the grocery store, let’s compare and contrast. Conventionally raised beef eat a grain heavy diet in filthy feed lots. They stand on wet manure so deep that tractors daily have to scrape it off and pile it nearby. So their feet can rot and get thrush. They are fed bagged feed, so they are crowded much more densely than if they were pasture raised. Then they go on a trailer ride to the slaughterhouse. I have not been to a slaughterhouse, but I have been to a small, licensed abattoir. It was a scrupulously clean facility, but even I could detect the strong underlying odor of blood. Then the cattle go on a long assembly line until they are put into a squeeze shoot and shot in the forehead with a bolt gun, as many times as it takes. All of the cows waiting in line get to hear that process all the way down the line. And then slowly move up to their turn. Meanwhile, they produce stress hormones. Temple Grandin devised a way of squeezing the cattle to reduce stress, which does improve the situation for the animals.

        We could go into pasture raised cattle not kept in dirty feed lots, but this is about hunting.

        A wild animal lives completely free. They go where they like, eat what they like and can find. They eat organic, pesticide-free completely natural, non adulterated food. When properly done, the animal never detects the hunter, or knows what hit him.

        There is nothing evil in being an omnivore or a carnivore. The lion is not evil because he evolved as a predator. Vegans struggle with nutrient deficiency. It’s possible to be healthy on a vegan diet, but quite difficult, and most fail. There have been high profile cases of vegan bloggers who had to start eating meat for health reasons.

        There is nothing evil about hunting, any more than it is evil to go to the grocery store and buy a shrink wrapped package of meat, fish, or poultry. In the latter case, someone else killed and processed the meat for you. There is nothing morally superior in having someone else do it. And those who hunt their own meat consider themselves as providers, in a similar fashion as a gardener. People who buy their meat, fish, and poultry at the store are disconnected from where that meat comes from. It is not grown in a laboratory in shrink wrap.

        Personally, I have never hunted. I didn’t learn as a kid, and as Darren stated, it’s difficult to start as an adult. But I have many friends and family members who do. One relative is a gourmet genius with what he can do with elk. I have always considered it kinder, healthier, and more self sufficient to be a hunter than to buy conventionally raised, feed lot beef.

        That said, there is the whole issue of chronic wasting disease in deer, but that’s another story. I do have concerns about a lack of proper supervision with children and weapons, and misjudging their abilities. Every kid is different. I also think that no child should have access, unsupervised to any firearm. They should all be locked up, even if that kid goes out hunting every weekend in deer season. I say this as someone who grew up in a house with loaded guns. But kids can come over who don’t have the same background.

  9. It is not true that Dick Cheney is opposed to the lowering of the age to hunt unless the age for drinking while hunting is also lowered.

  10. I was around 10 when I went on my first deer hunt. As long as they have the proper supervision and have completed hunter safety course, let them hunt at 10. I had to wait until 14 for my first gun, Savage Mod. 24. Great little small game gun. I hunted all my life until I moved to Thailand. I had by then an arsenal that the right wing would not want in the hands of a left wing militant radical like me. And I was very proficient with all.

    Certified/commissioned law enforcement officer, USDA wildland firefighter, professional big game guide, USMC Sgt-Vietnam 1966/67.

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