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Monday, Nov. 23, 2009

Hunting With 10-Year-Olds

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In a daring experiment in elementary education, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has joined with Wisconsin deer hunters to teach 10-year-old children to blow away animals with guns.

Hunting enthusiasts don’t describe it quite so bluntly, of course. They make it sound like joining the Sierra Club.

“Introducing kids to hunting in a relaxed atmosphere with close supervision,” said DNR Secretary Matt Frank, “is key to nurturing a love of the natural world, a conservation ethic and what may turn out to be a lifelong love and passion for the outdoors.”

So it’s all about love of the natural world. And it’s never too early to teach children you always kill the ones you love.

The real reason the Legislature lowered the deer hunting age to 10 this year is that hunting is becoming a geriatric sport. The Wisconsin Conservation Congress says for every 100 hunters who stop hunting—often when they stop breathing entirely—only half as many young hunters replace them.

By the time children reach the advanced age of 12—the previous minimum age for shooting deadly weapons in a woods crowded with other human beings—a lot of them are getting more interested in live girls than dead animals.

The idea is to indoctrinate innocent young children to embrace the deer hunting culture before they’re old enough to be openly contemptuous of everything adults do. Unfortunately, the age of innocence seems to be dropping faster than we can put loaded guns into children’s hands these days.

Family Bonding

“Billy, this is the most important weekend of your life. I am going to take you up north and teach you how to become a man.”

“Awesome! But Mom is going to be really mad if she finds out. She thinks you’re taking me deer hunting with Uncle Fred.”

“We are going deer hunting, Billy. This is a family tradition handed down to us by our father and handed down to our father by his father before him.”

“If it was all handed down, how come granddad and great-granddad are coming too? You said we had to be ready to drag them out of the woods if they keeled over.”

“That just shows their lifelong passion for the outdoors, Billy. That’s why I want to nurture a love of the natural world in you this weekend.”

“Love, yuk! I thought we were going to kill stuff.”

“Don’t worry, Billy. If we’re fortunate enough to track a deer, I will be right next to you when you have the opportunity to bag your first deer. It will be the proudest moment of my life.”

“It’s no big deal, Dad. I’ve killed plenty of stuff before. I kill prostitutes and hobos all the time in ‘Grand Theft Auto.’ I leave bloody stacks of them all over the place.”

“This is real life, Billy. Deer hunting has nothing to do with running down prostitutes.”

“That’s not what Uncle Fred said. Don’t you remember when he was laughing about you and him going into Crandon in the old days?”

“Your Uncle Fred had a little too much to drink. He got confused. We used to stop in Crandon for supplies.”

“That’s what Uncle Fred said. He said you got the supplies of your life when some girl told you how old she was. What do you use jail bait for when you’re hunting, Dad? Does it attract deer?”

“Never mind, Billy. Your uncle and I will take care of that part. You just remember how to stay calm and collected at the most exciting moment of the hunt.”

“I know. I know. If I fill a full boat, I am supposed to remain absolutely stone-faced. I don’t want to raise too much right away and drive everybody out of the pot.”

“I’m not talking about the poker game, Billy. I’m talking about the game of life. Suddenly, you’re face-to-face with a magnificent 12-point buck. He’s standing absolutely still, trying to catch your scent. No one else is around. What do you do, Billy?”

“I say, ‘Shoo!’”

“You say what?!! Hunters wait all their lives for an opportunity like that, Billy! Remember how you’re supposed to squeeze the trigger slowly so your weapon doesn’t jerk.”

“But that’s against the law, Dad! The law allowing little kids like me to go hunting with adult mentors says you have to be within arm’s reach of me at all times. And we can have only one firearm between us. So I’m not allowed to shoot a deer if there’s nobody else around.”

“That’s what they call a technicality, Billy. If you have an opportunity to shoot a deer, take it. We’ll get our stories straight later.”

“No way am I serving any prison rap for you, Dad.”

“That does it! I’m lobbying to change the law to take your 5-year-old brother hunting!”

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