New Year Underway for Mentored Youth Hunting Program
Antlerless deer hunting added to list of eligible species for youth participants
HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 1, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe said the popular Mentored Youth Hunting Program (MYHP) has been expanded for 2011-12 to include antlerless deer hunting thanks to a recent change in law and regulations.
"Since 2006, Pennsylvania's hunters have been taking advantage of a remarkable opportunity to introduce those under the age of 12 to hunting through the Mentored Youth Hunting Program," 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 to 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.
Mentored youth can participate during any established season for woodchucks (groundhogs), squirrels, spring gobbler, coyotes and antlered and antlerless deer. In addition to being able to participate during the general squirrel season and spring gobbler seasons, mentored youth also may hunt during the junior-only squirrel season (Oct. 9-15) and junior-only spring gobbler day (April 23).
For antlered deer, the mentored youth must use legal sporting arms for that season; for example, a bow or crossbow must be used during archery antlered deer season. Also, 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.
In order to harvest an antlerless deer, an adult mentor may transfer a valid antlerless license issued to him or her to an eligible mentored youth upon the harvest of an antlerless deer, and a mentored youth may only receive one antlerless deer license each license year. The antlerless deer license transferred to the mentored youth must be for the Wildlife Management Unit in which the adult mentor and youth are hunting.
This recent addition to the MYHP was made possible by Senate Bill 274, which was sponsored by Senate Game and Fisheries Committee Chairman Richard Alloway II, and signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett on June 24. Once the law was changed, the Board of Game Commissioners enacted regulatory changes to add the harvesting of antlerless deer beginning with the 2011-12 seasons.
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 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 deer or spring gobbler taken. As part of the MYHP permit, youth will be provided the necessary harvest tags for antlered deer and spring gobbler, but must use the adult mentors antlerless deer harvest tag.
MYHP participants who harvest an antlered deer or a spring gobbler must report their harvest within five days. However, an adult mentor must report any antlerless deer license used by a mentored youth to harvest an antlerless deer within 10 days. Harvests can be reported using the agency's online harvest reporting system, the toll-free telephone reporting system (1-855-724-8681) or they can submit a harvest report card, which is available as inserts in the 2011-12 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations.
Harvest report cards also printed from the agency's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) by putting your cursor over the "Self-Help" button in the menu bar at the top of the page, then clicking on "Download Forms and Brochures" in the drop-down menu listing and then clicking on "Big Game Harvest Report Card."
All youth participating in the MYHP must obtain a permit through the Game Commission's Pennsylvania Automated License System (PALS), which costs $2.70. Of that fee, one dollar goes to the Game Commission, one dollar goes to the issuing agent who processes the permit application, and 70 cents goes to the company managing PALS.
"When we first started the MYHP, we didn't require a permit because there was no method available to issue a permit without creating an enormous obstacle for participants," Roe said. "PALS provides an easy method for parents to obtain a MYHP permit without too many difficulties.
"The MYHP will enable the agency to gather data about the level of participation in this program, which can be used to assist in better planning and scheduling our basic Hunter-Trapper Education courses. This database of MYHP participants will let us know when young hunters are 11 years of age, and where they live, so that we can make sure the number of courses we are offering will meet the expected demand."
For more information on the program, visit the Game Commission's website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) and put your cursor over the "Hunt/Trap" button in the menu bar at the top of the page, click on "Hunting" and then click on "Mentored Youth Hunting Program FAQs" in the "Related Links" section. Information also is included on page 15 of the 2011-12 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations. (NOTE: Page 15 of the digest contains information stating that antlerless deer are not legal quarry for the MYHP. However, the Digest was published prior to the change in law, so the wording of the Digest is out of date.)
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 put your cursor over "Education" in the menu bar at the top of the page, then put your cursor over "Hunter Education" in the drop-down menu listing and click on "Hunter Education Class Calendar."
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Game Commission