I’ve gotta hand it to the Pennsylvania Game Commission for continually working on efforts to introduce youth to our sport. In recent years they have initiated special youth-only hunting seasons, a mentored youth hunting program and a variety of outreach and educational efforts targeting youth.
Their latest effort is a planning guide for individuals, clubs or organizations interested in sponsoring an organized youth hunt. The guide is a 41 page booklet full of good ideas and suggestions for hunt organizers as well as example activity plans, consent forms, etc. There is also web-based calendar on the PGC website where you can register your organized hunt.
The overwhelming majority of adult hunters were introduced to the sport before the age of 20. So it’s great to see the PA Game Commission actively working to increase the number of youth exposed to hunting.
PA Game Commission press release on the Organized Hunting Planning Guide:
NEW PLANNING GUIDE AVAILABLE FOR YOUTH HUNTING
8/4/2010 HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Game Commission has published a new planning guide to assist conservation organizations – or individual hunters – host a species-specific hunt for eligible junior hunters. To view a copy of the new manual, go to the Game Commission website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), click on “Education” in the menu bar at the top of the homepage, select “Special Hunts” in the “Special Events and Programs,” and then choose “Youth Hunt Planning Guide” in the “Special Hunt Guides.”
Copies of the manual also can be obtained from the Game Commission’s six region offices and Harrisburg headquarters, as well as at The Sportsman’s Shop in New Holland, Lancaster County; The Buck Stops Here in New Florence, Westmoreland County; and Custer’s Sport Shop in Berlin, Somerset County. In addition, valuable coupons for these three sporting goods stores can be found on the inside back cover of manuals obtained from these issuing agents.
“The future of hunting is directly related to the continuing participation of young Pennsylvanians,” Roe noted. “The goal is to successfully compete with all the other activities and recreational opportunities that vie for a young person’s time. It’s truly a challenge for the Game Commission, as well as Pennsylvania’s one million hunters.”
Roe noted that this manual complements the agency’s other booklet specifically directed to those seeking to host a junior pheasant hunt in their community.
“This new booklet, as well as the planning guide for the junior pheasant hunt, is a wealth of information and guidance for those starting from scratch to conduct an event for their club or organization, or just planning to help a young family member or neighbor,” Roe said. “We not only encourage seasoned hunters to offer to share their experience and knowledge with our younger generations, but the future of hunting and trapping depends on this exchange and interaction.”
Roe also noted that, this fall, a new junior hunting opportunity will be unveiled; the junior rabbit season, which will be held Oct. 9-16. The season will be open to those juniors age 12-16, when properly accompanied by an adult as required by law, with or without a license. The daily and field possession limits will be the same as the general rabbit season, four daily and eight in possession.
Roe noted that the junior rabbit season will not be part of the Mentored Youth Hunting Program, which is for those youth under the age of 12. The only species eligible for MYHP participants are: antlered deer, squirrels, groundhogs, spring gobbler and coyotes.
Other special junior hunting opportunities for those 12 to 16 include seasons for squirrel, pheasant, waterfowl, spring gobbler and antlerless deer. In addition, juniors can abide by antler restrictions of one antler at least three inches in length or one antler with at least two points.