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Youth Hunting Seasons Just Around the Corner; Clubs Urged to Sponsor Mentored Youth Spring Turkey Hunts
Thursday September 30, 4:45 pm ET

HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- With autumn's arrival, the start of Pennsylvania's general small game and archery seasons are just around the corner. However, before all licensed hunters get a chance to head afield, Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Vern Ross encouraged them to help make the upcoming youth squirrel and pheasant hunting seasons a success by introducing a youngster between 12 and 16 years of age to the hunting community.
"Part of the Game Commission's overall vision is to promote our state's rich hunting and trapping heritage," Ross said. "The future of hunting and trapping is directly related to the continuing participation of young Pennsylvanians in our hunting and furtaking seasons. The challenge is to successfully compete with all the other activities and recreational opportunities that vie for a teenager's time. It's truly a challenge for the Game Commission, as well as Pennsylvania's more than a million hunters."

The Board of Game Commissioners approved an expanded youth squirrel season for 2004. In the past, the youth squirrel season was a two-day event. Under this year's package, the Board established the 2004 youth squirrel season as Oct. 9-15.

The youth pheasant hunt will be held Oct. 9 and 11. On Oct. 9, more than 30 sportsmen's clubs from across Pennsylvania will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt where they will provide specific instructions on pheasant hunting. Each club also was able to receive Game Commission-raised pheasants to stock as part of the special hunt.

Under the youth squirrel and pheasant hunts, participants are not required to purchase a junior hunting license, but they must pass a Hunter-Trapper Education course. As with all junior hunting, those participants 12 and 13 years old must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or other family member 18 years or older, and those 14 and 15 years old must be accompanied by a person 18 years or older. Also, all bag limits apply, including areas for harvesting male and female pheasants.

"These youth seasons take into account that students are off school on Saturday, Oct. 9, and most are off on Monday, Oct. 11, the Columbus Day holiday, as well," Ross said. "The remainder of this youth squirrel season (Oct. 12-15) takes place before the change of daylight savings time. This gives students an opportunity to go home after school and have two hours or so to hunt, which is a long-standing tradition in many rural parts of the state."

For the youth pheasant season, Game Commission personnel will stock 18,000 birds on 114 sites in 56 of the 65 counties where pheasants are stocked. An additional 2,000 pheasants will be divided and shipped to more than 30 sportsmen's clubs that have signed up to host a mentored youth pheasant hunt. Last year, 23 clubs hosted such hunts. Youth hunters, however, are not limited to hunting in only those areas where pheasants have been stocked. The pheasant stocking locations and pheasant hunting area maps are outlined on pages 26-29 of the 2004-2005 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations, as well as on the agency's website (

Other recent Game Commission initiatives to promote youth hunting opportunities include: a youth spring gobbler season that was held in 2004 for the first time; a youth pheasant hunt that began in 2002; a youth waterfowl hunt initiated in 1996; special antlerless deer harvesting opportunities initiated in 1998, and expanded in 2000; and youth field days implemented in the early 1990s. Also, as part of the license fee increase approved in 1998, the General Assembly created a junior combination license that packages regular license privileges with archery, flintlock and furtaking opportunities for $9, compared to the regular junior license price of $6.


While Pennsylvania's second youth spring gobbler season seems like a long way off - April 23, 2005 - Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Vern Ross noted that now is the time for hunting clubs to consider whether they want to help maximize 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," Ross 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 26-page 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 & Trapping," then selecting "2004 Youth Pheasant Hunt," and then selecting "Planning Guide."

Lori Richardson, agency outreach coordinator and chair of the Game Commission's Youth Turkey Hunt Committee, 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.

Richardson also noted that 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 23 - 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," Richardson said.

Source: Pennsylvania Game Commission

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