Pennsylvania Clubs Asked to Sponsor Youth Hunts

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While Pennsylvania's youth spring gobbler season seems like a long way off - April 21, 2007 - Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe noted that now is the time for hunting clubs to consider whether they want to help promote and champion this opportunity for juniors by hosting a mentored youth hunt.

"To maximize this opportunity for young hunters, and to ensure we pass along the ethics and ideals of our hunting heritage, the Game Commission is urging local clubs to consider hosting a mentored youth spring gobbler hunt for the young people in their community," Roe said. "Experienced turkey hunters have much to offer young hunters who are just starting out. Also, it can be personally fulfilling to know that you are an active part of helping to pass along Pennsylvania's hunting and trapping heritage to a new generation."

Juniors participating in this special big game hunting opportunity can learn from club members about scouting out good hunting locations and how to call turkeys. And, at the same time, clubs can benefit by demonstrating the importance and benefits for hunters to join a local organization.

Those clubs interested in hosting a mentored youth spring gobbler hunt are encouraged to make use of the planning guide originally prepared by the Game Commission and the Pennsylvania State Chapter of Pheasants Forever for the mentored youth pheasant hunt. The planning guide offers a step-by-step guide on how to develop an organized mentored youth hunt, and includes: a sample timeline; suggested committees and assignments; general event planning considerations; and several sample forms and news releases. It also includes event evaluation guides so clubs and organizations may consider changes for future mentored youth hunts.

The manual can be viewed on the agency's website, by clicking on "Hunting," then selecting "Pheasant Photo," and then selecting "Planning Guide."

Roe said that to participate in the special hunt, youngsters must be 12 to 16 years of age, and must have successfully completed a Hunter-Trapper Education course. As required by law, an adult must accompany young hunters between 12 and 15 years of age. Participants in the youth spring gobbler season also will be required to purchase a junior hunting license. The Committee recommended this requirement to ensure that all participants had passed a Hunter-Trapper Education course and to provide a method of tagging and reporting turkey harvest information via the report cards.

"By setting the youth spring gobbler hunt for April 21 - a week earlier than the start of the statewide spring gobbler season, young hunters will be afield at a time when the turkey population is at its highest level, before the birds are hunted by others and at the peak of gobbling activity," Roe said.

Roe noted that those youth under 12 years of age may participate in the junior spring gobbler day as part of the new Mentored Youth Hunting Program. Under the program, a mentor is defined as a properly licensed individual at least 21 years of age, who will serve as a guide to a youth while engaged in hunting or related activities, such as scouting, learning firearm or hunter safety and wildlife identification. A mentored youth would be defined as an unlicensed individual less than 12 years of age who is accompanied by a mentor while engaged in hunting or related activities.

The regulations require that the mentor-to-mentored youth ratio be one-to-one, and that the pair possesses only one sporting arm when hunting. While moving, the sporting arm must be carried by the mentor. When the pair reaches a stationary hunting location, the mentor may turn over possession of the sporting arm to the youth and must keep the youth within arm's length at all times.

The Mentored Youth Hunting Program does not require the youth purchase any license or pass a Hunter-Trapper Education course.

Created in 1895 as an independent state agency, the Game Commission is responsible for conserving and managing all wild birds and mammals in the Commonwealth, establishing hunting seasons and bag limits, enforcing hunting and trapping laws, and managing habitat on the 1.4 million acres of State Game Lands it has purchased over the years with hunting and furtaking license dollars to safeguard wildlife habitat. The agency also conducts numerous wildlife conservation programs for schools, civic organizations and sportsmen's clubs.

The Game Commission does not receive any general state taxpayer dollars for its annual operating budget. The agency is funded by license sales revenues; the state's share of the federal Pittman-Robertson program, which is an excise tax collected through the sale of sporting arms and ammunition; and monies from the sale of oil, gas, coal, timber and minerals derived from State Game Lands.