People interested in learning to hunt Wisconsin’s largest game animal have until May 24 to apply to participate in a Learn to Hunt Bear outing featuring classroom and field instruction capped with a real hunt with skilled mentors.

“The Learn to Hunt Bear program represents an opportunity of a lifetime for novice hunters of any age,” said Keith Warnke, hunting and shooting sport coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources. “Working in partnership with many dedicated bear hunters and local conservation organizations, wardens and wildlife managers, successful Learn to Hunt Bear events have been held across northern Wisconsin during the last several years.”

In 2012, DNR conservation wardens and dedicated bear hunters coordinated LTH Bear events for 56 participants in nine counties. A total of 42 bear were harvested: 25 over bait and 17 using dogs. Conservation Warden Jill Schartner who organizes the Bayfield County LTH bear event said those who participate in these events leave with the skills and basic building blocks needed to hunt for a bear in the future.

Schartner said last year instead of only hunting the weekend for just two days, a day was added on each end of the weekend in September 2012.

This change, she said, gave both hunters a little more time to spend with their mentors and those two extra days really made a difference. While all the LTH bear events are different (not all are four days long), every group goes to extra lengths to ensure the novice hunters are well trained.

Schartner believes the mentors are the ones who are crucial to this program. “If not for their experience, money, time and energy, there would be no program,” she said.

Schartner, who has more than 16 Bear Hunting Mentor Groups who help run this program, said mentors share their experiences to keep improving the program each year. Participation in the DNR Learn to Hunt Bear program is limited, so qualified applications will be evaluated and winners drawn and notified in mid-June. Documents and applications for the Learn to Hunt Bear program can be found by searching the DNR website for “LTH.”

The program is limited to novice bear hunters only. A novice hunter is anyone age 10 and older who has not participated in a Learn to Hunt Bear event and has not previously purchased a Class A or Class B bear license. Applications must be postmarked by May 24

In 2005, the DNR began the Learn to Hunt Bear program as another outreach program for novice hunters. Other Wisconsin wildlife featured in the Learn to Hunt program include turkey, deer, pheasant, upland game and waterfowl. For more information search the DNR website for “LTH.”

Logo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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