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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.

Allegheny County:
The Bull Creek Rod & Gun Club will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 30 youth in Tarentum. Contact Randy Strzeszewski at 724-224-7047 to pre-register.

Berks County:
The Bally Sportsmen's Association will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 25 youth in Bally. Contact Bruce Moll at 610-845-0224 to pre-register.

Cambria County:
The Benshoff Hill Rod & Gun Club will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 20 youth in Tanneryville. Contact Brian Eichelberger at 814-535-3893 to pre-register.

Centre County:
The Three Point Sportsmen Club will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 35-50 youth in Clarence. Contact Steven Demyan at 814-387-6779 to pre-register.

Elk County:
The Pheasants Forever Chapter 630 will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 53 youth. Contact Mike Cesa at 814-885-6318 or cesamike@hotmail.com to pre-register.

Fayette County:
The Fairbank Rod & Gun Club will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 50 youth in Fairbank. Contact Bob Valente at 724-246-9828 to pre-register.

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.

Franklin County:
The Cumberland Valley Pheasants Forever will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 20 youth in Mercersburg. Contact Michael Baehr at 717-486-8003 or mfbaehr@duke-energy.com to pre-register.

Lawrence County:
The Ellwood/Wampum Rod & Gun Club will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 50 youth in New Beaver Township. Contact Robert Samios at 724-251-9020 or Robert.Samios@verizon.net to pre-register.

Mifflin County:
The Mifflin County Pheasants Forever will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 25 youth in Milroy. Contact Michael Pruss at 717-242-4157 or pruss@lcworkshop.com to pre-register.

Montour County:
The Central Susquehanna Pheasants Forever will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 50 youth in Washingtonville. Contact Jack Kile at 570-379-2095 or kile@epix.net to pre-register.

Potter County:
The Arcana Lodge No. 580 F&AM will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 50 youth between Coudersport and Gold. Contact James Mohr at 814-647-6701 or BowHunt@Adelphia.net to pre-register.

Schuylkill County:
The Friedensburg Fish & Game Association will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 36 youth. Contact Jeff Sproule at 570-739-4103 or Jsproule@jetson.com to pre-register.

Warren County:
The Tidioute Bucktails will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 15 youth in Tidioute. Contact Jack York at 814-484-3975 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 jamack1@yahoo.com to pre-register.

Washington County:
The Claysville Sportsman Club will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 10 youth near Dutch Fork Lake. Contact Chet Krcil at 724-948-2206 or karkrcil@pulsenet.com to pre-register.

Westmoreland County:
The Laurel Highland Chapter of Pheasants Forever will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 50 youth near Latrobe and Derry. Contact Kevin Adams at 724-423-8445 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 fraz66@zoominternet.net 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.

York County:
The Mechanicsburg Sportsmen's Association will host a mentored youth pheasant hunt for 25 youth. Contact David Still at 717-730-7373 or dstill@envact.com 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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