Hunters change through the years. Factors used to determine "successful hunting" change as well for each hunter. A hunter's age, role models, and his years of hunting experience affect his ideas of "success." Many hunters may fit into one of the following five groups. In 1975-1980, groups of over 1,000 hunters in Wisconsin were studied, surveyed, and written about by Professors Robert Jackson and Robert Norton, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. The results of their studies form a widely accepted theory of hunter behavior and development. Where are you now? Where would you like to be?

SHOOTER STAGE
The hunter talks about satisfaction with hunting being closely tied to being able to "get shooting." Often the beginning duck hunter will relate he had an excellent day if he got in a lot of shooting. The beginning deer hunter will talk about the number of shooting opportunities. Missing game means little to hunters in this phase. A beginning hunter wants to pull the trigger and test the capability of his firearm. A hunter in this stage may be a dangerous hunting partner.

LIMITING OUT STAGE
A hunter still talks about satisfaction gained from shooting. But what seems more important is measuring success through the killing of game and the number of birds or animals shot. Limiting out, or filling a tag, is the absolute measure. Do not let your desire to limit out be stronger than the need for safe behavior at all times.

TROPHY STAGE
Satisfaction is described in terms of selectivity of game. A duck hunter might take only greenheads. A deer hunter looks for one special deer. A hunter might travel far to find a real trophy animal. Shooting opportunity and skills become less important.

METHOD STAGE
This hunter has all the special equipment. Hunting has become one of the most important things in his life. Satisfaction comes from the method that enables the hunter to take game. Taking game is important, but second to how it is taken. This hunter will study long and hard how best to pick a blind site, lay out decoys, and call in waterfowl. A deer hunter will go one on one with a white-tailed deer, studying sign, tracking, and the life habits of the deer. Often, the hunter will handicap himself by hunting only with black powder firearms or bow and arrow. Bagging game, or limiting, still is understood as being a necessary part of the hunt during this phase.

SPORTSMAN STAGE
As a hunter ages and after many years of hunting, he "mellows out." Satisfaction now can be found in the total hunting experience. Being in the field, enjoying the company of friends and family, and seeing nature outweigh the need for taking game. Not all hunters go through all the stages, or go through them in that particular order. It is also possible for hunters who pursue several species of game to be in different stages with regard to each species. Some hunters feel that role models of good sportsmen, training, or reading books or magazines helped them pass more quickly through some stages.