Pennsylvania Mentored Youth Hunt Program - Get Involved

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Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe encouraged experienced hunters, who have historically helped pass along the state's rich hunting heritage, to consider introducing youths to hunting through the Mentored Youth Hunting Program (MYHP).

"Since 2006, Pennsylvania's hunters have been taking advantage of a remarkable opportunity to introduce those under the age of 12 to hunting through the Mentored Youth Hunting Program,"” Roe said. "Hunting is deeply woven into the cultural fabric that is Pennsylvania, and it is important that we recruit new hunters to carry on this tradition."

Roe noted that the logic behind the Mentored Youth Hunting Program is simple and clear: create expanded youth hunting opportunities without compromising safety afield.

"This program paves the way for youngsters to nurture their interest in hunting early and allows them to take a more active role in actual hunting while afield with mentoring adults," Roe said. "The program accommodates hands-on use of sporting arms and can promote a better understanding and interest in hunting and wildlife conservation that will help to assure hunting's future, as well as reinforce the principles of hunting safely through the close supervision provided by dedicated mentors."

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 firearms or hunter safety and wildlife identification. A mentored youth is identified 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.

All youth participating in the MYHP must obtain a permit through the Game Commission's Pennsylvania Automated License System (PALS), which costs $2.70. Of that fee, one dollar goes to the Game Commission, one dollar goes to the issuing agent who processes the permit application, and 70 cents goes to the company managing PALS.

"When we first started the MYHP, we didn't require a permit because there was no method available to issue a permit without creating an enormous obstacle for participants," Roe said. "PALS provides an easy method for parents to obtain a MYHP permit without too many difficulties.

"The MYHP will enable the agency to gather data about the level of participation in this program, which can be used to assist in better planning and scheduling our basic Hunter-Trapper Education courses. This database of MYHP participants will let us know when young hunters are 11 years of age, and where they live, so that we can make sure the number of courses we are offering will meet the expected demand."

Mentored youth can participate during any established season for woodchucks (groundhogs), squirrels, spring gobbler, coyotes and antlered deer. For antlered deer, the mentored youth must use legal sporting arms for that season; for example, a bow or crossbow must be used during archery antlered deer season. In addition to being able to participate during the general squirrel season and spring gobbler seasons, mentored youth also may hunt during the junior-only squirrel season (Oct. 9-15) and junior-only spring gobbler day (April 23).

Those youths participating in the MYHP are required to follow the same antler restrictions as a junior license holder, which is one antler of three or more inches in length or one antler with at least two points.

While antlerless deer presently are not legal game for participating MYHP youth, the Game Commission is supporting legislative-efforts to allow an adult mentor to transfer an antlerless deer license issued to them to a youth that the adult is mentoring.

The program also requires that both the mentor and the youth must abide by any fluorescent orange regulations, and that the mentored youth must tag and report any antlered deer or spring gobbler taken. As part of the MYHP permit, youth will be provided the necessary harvest tags for antlered deer and spring gobbler.

MYHP participants who harvest an antlered deer or a spring gobbler must report their harvest within five days. The harvest can be reported either using the agency's online harvest reporting system, or they can submit a harvest report card, which is available as inserts in the 2010-11 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations. Harvest report cards also printed from the agency's website by putting your cursor over the "Self-Help" button in the menu bar at the top of the page, then clicking on "Download Forms and Brochures" in the drop-down menu listing and then clicking on "Big Game Harvest Report Card."

For more information on the program, visit the Game Commission's website and put your cursor over the "Hunt/Trap" button in the menu bar at the top of the page, click on "Hunting" and then click on "Mentored Youth Hunting Program FAQs" in the "Related Links" section. Information also is included on page 15 of the 2010-11 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations.

To continue hunting once a youth reaches the age of 12, they will need to and pass a basic Hunter-Trapper Education course and purchase either a junior hunting license or a junior combination license.