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.
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.
On Sunday, Nov. 19, the two headed out to the woods near their rural Medford home in Taylor County, about 230 miles (370 kilometers) 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."