HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe reminds experienced hunters, who have historically helped pass along the state’s rich hunting heritage, that the new license year means another year to begin introducing youths to hunting through the Mentored Youth Hunting Program (MYHP).
“Pennsylvania’s hunters have a remarkable opportunity to introduce those under the age of 12 to hunting,” Roe said. “Hunting is deeply woven into the cultural fabric that is Pennsylvania, and it is important that we recruit new hunters to carry on this tradition.”
Roe noted that the logic behind the Mentored Youth Hunting Program is simple and clear: create expanded youth hunting opportunities without compromising safety afield.
“This program paves the way for youngsters to nurture their interest in hunting early and allows them to take a more active role in actual hunting while afield with mentoring adults,” Roe said. “The program accommodates hands-on use of sporting arms and can promote a better understanding and interest in hunting and wildlife conservation that will help assure hunting’s future, as well as reinforce the principles of hunting safely through the close supervision provided by dedicated mentors.”
Under the program, a mentor is defined as a properly licensed individual at least 21 years of age, who will serve as a guide to a youth while engaged in hunting or related activities, such as scouting, learning firearms or hunter safety and wildlife identification. A mentored youth is identified as an unlicensed individual less than 12 years of age who is accompanied by a mentor while engaged in hunting or related activities.
The regulations require that the mentor-to-mentored youth ratio be one-to-one, and that the pair possesses only one sporting arm when hunting. While moving, the sporting arm must be carried by the mentor. When the pair reaches a stationary hunting location, the mentor may turn over possession of the sporting arm to the youth and must keep the youth within arm’s length at all times.
The species identified as legal game for the 2008-09 license year are woodchucks (groundhogs), squirrels, spring gobbler and antlered deer. At its June meeting, the Board of Game Commissioners gave unanimous approval to add coyote hunting to the list of species that mentored youth hunters can pursue. For the addition to take effect, the proposal must be approved at a subsequent meeting of the Board.
Those youths participating in the MYHP are required to follow the same antler restrictions as a junior license holder, which is one antler of three or more inches in length or one antler with at least two points. The program also requires that both the mentor and the youth must abide by any fluorescent orange regulations, and that the mentored youth must tag and report any antlered deer or spring gobbler taken by making and attaching a tag that contains his or her name, address, date, WMU, township, and county where it was taken. The youth must submit a harvest report card, which is available on page 33 of the 2008-09 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations, within five days for any antlered deer or spring gobbler he or she takes.
For more information on the program, visit the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) and click on “Mentored Youth FAQs” in “Quick Clicks” box in the upper right corner of the homepage. Information also is included on page 15 of the 2008-09 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations, and a sample harvest tag can be found on page 33 of the Digest.
To continue hunting once a youth reaches the age of 12, they will need to and pass a basic Hunter-Trapper Education course and purchase either a junior hunting license or a junior combination license. For a listing of HTE courses, visit the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) and click on the “Hunter Education” calendar in the right-hand column of the homepage.