Fall turkey hunting added to list of eligible species for youth participants
HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe said the popular Mentored Youth Hunting Program (MYHP) has been expanded for 2012-13 to include fall turkey 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, and we have seen a steady increase in the number of MYHP permits issued," Roe said. "Hunting is deeply woven into the cultural fabric that defines 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. In 2009, the first year a permit was required to participate in the MYHP, the agency issued 28,542 permits. In 2010, the agency issued 30,790; and, in 2011, the number of permits issued increased to 33,514.
"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, fall turkey, spring gobbler, coyotes and antlered and antlerless deer. In addition to being able to participate during the general seasons for the listed species, mentored youth also may hunt during the junior-only squirrel season (Oct. 6-12) and junior-only spring gobbler day (April 20).
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 permitted 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 must be willing to 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. The harvest of the antlerless deer is to be reported by the adult mentor within 10 days of harvest, and a box is to be checked "taken by mentored youth."
In order to harvest a fall turkey, an adult mentor must be willing to transfer a valid fall turkey tag that is issued as part of the adult's general hunting license to an eligible mentored youth upon the harvest of a fall turkey. A mentored youth may only receive one fall turkey tag each license year. The harvest of the fall turkey is to be reported by the adult mentor within 10 days of harvest, and a box is to be checked "taken by mentored youth."
The regulations require that the mentor-to-mentored youth ratio be one-to-one, and that the pair possess 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, but must keep the youth within arm's length at all times while the youth is in possession of the sporting arm.
The program also requires that both the mentor and the youth must abide by fluorescent orange regulations for the season they are participating in, and that the mentored youth must tag and report any deer or turkey 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 mentor's antlerless deer and/or fall turkey harvest tags.
MYHP participants who harvest an antlered deer or a spring gobbler must report their harvest 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 2012-13 Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest.
Harvest report cards also can be 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."
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 2012-13 Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping 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 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."
Note to Editors: If you would like to receive Game Commission news releases via e-mail, please send a note with your name, address, telephone number and the name of the organization you represent to: PGCNews@pa.gov
SOURCE Pennsylvania Game Commission