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CLUBS URGED TO SPONSOR MENTORED YOUTH SPRING TURKEY HUNTS

While Pennsylvania's first-ever youth spring gobbler season seems like a long way off - April 24, 2004 - 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.

"Part of the Game Commission's overall vision is to promote our state's rich hunting and trapping heritage, which is directly related to the continuing participation of young Pennsylvanians," Ross noted. "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.

"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."

Juniors can experience this special big game hunting opportunity fully by having an experienced turkey hunter from a club show them how to scout out a good hunting location and how to call turkeys. 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 (www.pgc.state.pa.us), by clicking on "2003 Youth Pheasant Hunt," and then selecting "Planning Guide" in the left-hand column.

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 the young hunters.

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 24 - 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.

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