September 26, 2020

Parents Know Best

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The tendency in this country is to meddle in people’s lives. We seem to have this mentality that everyone else is not smart enough to make their own decisions. We force people to do things because we don’t think they are capable of making the right decisions. Here are some examples of that.

We have laws forcing kids to wear a helmet when they ride a bicycle. The same for adults when they operate a motorcycle. We have censorship laws because we don’t think parents can decide what they think their own children should watch, read or listen to. We have age restrictions on just about everything and there are groups actively working to control every aspect of how parents decide what is best for their kids.

This same attitude holds true when it comes to how old a kid should be to go hunting with Dad or Mom. Some states don’t think it’s a parent’s choice and they have set laws dictating how old. There’s always some one or group of someones who know better than I.

Wisconsin is one state that is having such a debate. This stems from a bill that has been put before the Wisconsin Congress to lower the minimum age allowed to hunt to 8. There are currently 31 states that have no age limit and 11 states that have differing age limits. The states with no restrictions on age also do not have any exceptions to the rule. As is the case in Wisconsin, the proposed bill (AB586) would have restrictions and guidelines. These were authored into the bill to satisfy some of the concerns opponents voiced about such a proposal.

These exceptions include both mentor and child to share one gun and the mentor must be within an arm’s length of the child when the child has a gun in his or her hands. Those opposed to the bill completely are those who refuse to believe that a parent is capable of deciding when their child is ready to go hunting.

Bill Torhorst, Vice President of the National Wild Turkey Federation and who lives in Dane County, Wisconsin, has written an editorial in the Journal Times addressing the issue in Wisconsin. I will highlight some of his comments but you can follow the link and read his entire commentary.

Bill goes after facts, which is the only sane way to approach a topic such as this. Inflammatory rhetoric and scare tactics are only that but those who use them know that it works on unintelligent people. Here are some facts about hunting accidents in states with and without age restrictions.

A close look at the latest hunter numbers and accident reports across the nation reveals some interesting information. In the states where parents choose, the accident rate is .0483 incidents per 1,000 hunters. In states where government makes the decision, the accident rate is .0535. Although only a 10 percent difference, states where parents decide were actually safer.

There has also been argument in opposition that having a younger age will increase the number of lifelong hunters for the future.

Research from a national study has shown that recruiting new hunters is much more difficult in states with age restrictions. In Wisconsin, we are bringing in only 53 new hunters for every 100 lost. In nearby Missouri where parents decide, they are recruiting 116 new hunters for every 100 lost.

Torhorst points out that the figures he uses for states such as Wisconsin and Missouri, come before chronic wasting disease was discovered. This is important in that the reduction of the number of hunters is not influenced in these studies by the disease.

When hunters review numbers such as these, it is sobering. It shows a real threat to the heritage and way of life enjoyed by many generations. We cannot sit back and let our heritage be condemned to non-existence by a small vocal minority.

Non-hunters should be concerned over the future of hunting as well. Torhorst reminds taxpayers that the bulk of the funds needed for wildlife and conservation matters in Wisconsin and other states, come from license fees and taxes levied on certain hunting and fishing gear.

The facts should speak for themselves. The parental option is proven to be a safe one.

Tom Remington

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