Novice hunters bag big ones - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Novice hunters bag big ones


When you think of hunting in Wisconsin, your mind may go straight to deer. But a DNR program gave inexperienced hunters of all ages their first taste of bear hunting in Cornell today.

Heather Howard's rush of adrenaline from killing her first bear was a feeling she shared with Paul Gilbertson, who until three days ago, was a stranger.

"It was a good broad side shot, I told her to take it," says Paul Gilbert son, a seasoned hunter.

"I was very nervous, I took my breath before I pulled the trigger," says Heather Howard, a novice bear hunter.  

Since 2005 the DNR has paired skilled hunters like Paul, with youth and novice hunters like Heather in its Learn to Hunt Bear Program.

"Bear hunting is not something that you just go and pick up and understand by yourself. You need someone who is knowledgeable about the sport show you a something about it," says Randy Dunkel, the Chippewa County Conservation Warden.

In order to recruit new hunters to the sport the program gives beginners more than a standard classroom education.

"It's pretty hard work. The dogs were tracking it. They chased it up a tree," says Brandon Stein, a novice hunter.

"It's a good experience for the kids. Taking them out gets them more into the hunting and shows them what dog hunting is all about," says Gerald Ankney, Stein's mentor.

Mentors passing their passion for the outdoors onto others in order to recruit the next generation of hunters to carry on their traditions because it takes a seasoned hunter to make a hunter.

"They all volunteer their time because they love what they do and they really enjoy the experience with the new hunters. The satisfaction of seeing their success is often times more rewarding than being in the hunt themselves," Dunkel says.

"I've got enough stuff hanging on my walls. It's just a good time seeing look on their faces. It's just as much fun as me getting a game, even more," Gilbertson says.

"My adrenaline was pumping and it was pretty awesome," Stein says.

All six of the Chippewa County hunters taking part in the program filled their bear tags this weekend and the DNR program isn't just limited to bear hunting, you can also learn how to hunt turkey, deer, and pheasant.

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