CLUBS STEP FORWARD TO OFFER MENTORED YOUTH PHEASANT HUNTS
Nearly two dozen sportsmen's clubs have stepped forward to sponsor a mentored hunt as part of the Pennsylvania Game Commission's second-ever youth pheasant season, which will be held concurrently with the annual junior squirrel hunt on Oct. 11 and 13. As with the youth squirrel hunt, this new youth hunting opportunity is open to junior hunters ages 12 to 16 who have successfully completed a Hunter-Trapper Education course. However, there is no requirement to purchase a junior license.
"The future of hunting is directly related to the continuing participation of young Pennsylvanians in our hunting seasons," said Vern Ross, Game Commission executive director. "While other states are seeing a decline in the number of young hunters, Pennsylvania is fortunate to see its junior license sales increase slightly over the past few years. I believe that increase can be attributed to the abundance of game throughout our Commonwealth, our state's long and proud hunting heritage and the strength of programs to promote youth hunting.
"One of the keys to promoting youth hunting is the tremendous effort of our hunting clubs. These groups are the grassroots organizations that sponsor Youth Field Day events and Hunter-Trapper Education courses throughout the year."
Working with the Pennsylvania State Chapter of Pheasants Forever, the Game Commission's Youth Pheasant Hunt Committee prepared a "Mentored Youth Pheasant Hunt Planning Guide" to enable groups to develop and sponsor a mentored youth pheasant hunt program.
"Holding concurrent youth seasons for squirrel and ring-necked pheasants will offer variety to youths who participate in these small game-hunting opportunities," said Lori Richardson, Game Commission Outreach Coordinator and Youth Pheasant Hunt Committee chair. "The state's long-standing daily bag limit of two pheasants will apply to junior hunters participating in this season. Also, hens remain protected in the male-pheasant-only zones, and juniors may only harvest male pheasants in those designated wildlife management units."
The Game Commission will release 18,000 pheasants on land open to public hunting prior to the start of the two-day season. 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 2003-2004 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting & Trapping Regulations, as well as on the agency's website www.pgc.state.pa.us.
Following is a county-by-county breakdown of the mentored youth pheasant hunts being sponsored on Saturday, Oct. 11. Hunter-Trapper Education certification is required prior to attending the hunt. Up to 2,000 additional pheasants have been set aside by the Game Commission to distribute to these clubs for stocking on lands open to public hunting. Each club will receive a shipment of two birds per registered participant, up to a limit of 100 birds per club.
The Wharton Township Hunting & Fishing Club will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 20 youth in Farmington. Contact Eric Baker at 724-329-8814 to pre-register.
The Warren County Chapter of Pheasants Forever is hosting a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 20 youth in Spring Creek. Contact John Mack at 814-563-9053 or email@example.com to pre-register.
The Little Sewickley Sportsmen Association will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 50 youth in Latrobe. Contact Jay Bossart at 724-423-6714 to pre-register.
The Youngwood Sportsman's Association will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 25 youth in Youngwood. Contact David Davis at 724-834-4134 or Dadrea@aol.com to pre-register.
The Deputy Wildlife Conservation Officers of Westmoreland County will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 50 youth in Mt. Pleasant. Contact Ed Farzati at 724-423-2931 or firstname.lastname@example.org to pre-register.
The Derry Rod & Gun Club will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 50 youth near Derry. Contact Tom McWherter at 724-694-8649 to pre-register.
"On behalf of the Game Commission, I would like to extend my sincere thanks and praise to the members of these clubs for sponsoring a mentored youth pheasant hunt, and for all that they do to preserve and pass along our state's rich and proud hunting heritage to a new generation," Ross said.
Richardson noted that the Game Commission's first youth pheasant season was enjoyed by youth throughout the state last year.
"Nearly 15,000 pheasants were released at more than 75 sites open to public hunting," Richardson said. "In addition, more than 400 youth participated in more than a dozen Mentored Youth Pheasant Hunts hosted by sportsmen's organizations statewide."
Youth participants responding to a statewide survey after the mentored youth pheasant hunt programs indicated that: about half had successfully bagged game; a male relative had accompanied most of them; the majority of youth participating were between the ages of 12 and 14; and many of them intend to hunt again. The agency also received many positive comments about the new initiative, as well as considerable favorable news media coverage.
In addition, according to the results of the agency's Game Take Survey for 2002, nearly 13,000 juniors took part in the youth pheasant hunting opportunity statewide.
Other recent Game Commission initiatives to promote youth hunting opportunities include: a youth spring gobbler season set for April 24, 2004; youth squirrel and waterfowl hunts 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.
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