Hunters as young as 6 show off first kills under new Wisconsin law

MILWAUKEE -- A Wisconsin kindergartner is among the first youngsters to bag a buck under a new law that eliminates the state's minimum hunting age.

Lexie Harris, 6, is no stranger to the woods. Her dad, Tyler Harris, has taken her along on his hunts since she was 3. But, it wasn't until Gov. Scott Walker signed the new law on Nov. 12 that Lexie could legally shoot a deer.

Until then, a state resident had to be 12 years old to purchase a hunting license or hunt with a gun. Children as young as 10 could participate in the mentored hunt program. The new law lets anyone of any age participate in a mentored hunt and the mentor and student are each allowed carry their own weapon.

Walker signed the law just a week before the season opener, making Wisconsin the 35th state to have no age limit for hunters, CBS affiliate WDJT-TV reports.

Harris bought his daughter a youth rifle, which is easier for her to handle and less powerful and has taken her to the shooting range to practice. He also attached a smartphone to the gun scope to make it easier to train the firearm on her target.

Kindergarten Hunter

In this Nov. 19, 2017 photo provided by Tyler Harris, Lexie Harris, 6, poses after bagging a buck in Taylor County, Wis.

AP

On Sunday, Nov. 19, the two headed out to the woods near their rural Medford home in Taylor County, about 230 miles northwest of Milwaukee, where Harris has built a heated hunting enclosure. Harris carried his daughter's gun. They saw several deer during their time in the wooded shelter, but waited for the one that would provide a good shot, Harris said.

Soon, a six-point buck strolled into their view. Harris helped his daughter set up for a shot.

"She was shaking," Harris said. He told her she could take a shot, but only if she wanted to. Lexie pulled the trigger and the buck was hit. The two tracked a blood trail to the carcass not far away.

'"She looked at me right away and said, 'I'm not gutting it because that's gross,'" Harris said. So, he field dressed the deer and hauled the carcass out of the woods.

Lexie's grandmother, Karen Zubke, said she's glad her son believes his child doesn't have to be a boy to hunt.

"He beams," Zubke said describing her son. "He's so proud of her."

Joe Krantz went hunting with his 6-year-old son Reece, who pulled the trigger on a buck under his father's supervision, WDJT-TV reports.

"He's been on four successful whitetail hunts and turkey hunts," said Krantz.

Reece said he has asked his dad many times, "Is it my turn yet?"

This year, Krantz said he was able to answer, "yes."

Krantz said there was a lot of safety involved. He said he taught Reece the four main firearm safety rules and they had a shooting chair and ear protection. He also helped Reece set up and told him when it was safe to pull the trigger.

Krantz captured the whole hunt on camera.

"In that moment, I felt 100 percent confident in his safety and well-being," Krantz told WDJT-TV. "Watching it back I'm speechless almost every time I watch the video. It brings a tear to my eye and makes my heart hurt."

Nine-year-old Ridge Tibbett got to hunt a year earlier than expected because of the new law.

"We saw a doe walk by. My dad said get your gun out there might be a buck behind it," said Ridge.

Ridge thanked his dad for helping take down the buck, and his grandpa for planting soybeans. He says the 10-pointer he shot had beans in his stomach.

"I got my gun up and ready, and then he walked out and I shot," Ridge said.