HARRISBURG, Pa., May 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- After more than a decade of success, the Pennsylvania Game Commission is working to expand its Junior Pheasant Hunt Program and is seeking partners to do so.
The commission is asking sportsmen's clubs and other conservation organizations to meet an increasing demand created by the youngsters who want to participate in the program.
And this year, clubs have the opportunity to host not one, but two organized junior pheasant hunts, and have been given leeway to accept more participants at the events they host.
Those new options are among the many reasons interested clubs might want to start planning their events now.
The Game Commission has organized junior pheasant hunts since 2002 as a way to create more hunting opportunities for both prospective and current junior hunters ages 12 to 16. To participate, junior hunters must have successfully completed the basic Hunter-Trapper Education course, however, they do not need to purchase a hunting license.
Recently, the program's popularity has swelled. In 2012, 26 events filled within a two-week period, and the Game Commission estimates at least 3,000 more young hunters would take part if given the opportunity.
The program has great potential to be an effective hunter-retention tool. Ninety percent of junior pheasant hunt participants purchased hunting licenses in the same year.
To qualify to host, clubs must open event registration to the public and the hunt must be held on lands open to public hunting; which could include State Game Lands or acreage enrolled in the Hunter Access Program. The Game Commission provides, free of charge, a limited number of pheasants to host clubs. Pheasants are provided on a first-come, first-served basis at a rate of two legal birds per participant, and the commission will do its best to accommodate all appropriate requests.
Changes to the guidelines governing junior pheasant hunts were made to help clubs that saw demand for such programs that was too great to accommodate with a single event. Previously, the Game Commission capped junior pheasant hunts at a maximum of 50 participants. Now, the clubs can decide how large an event they can handle. The addition of a second day also allows for some flexibility in meeting the demand, said Samantha Pedder, outreach coordinator for the Game Commission.
This year, clubs may host events on either Saturday, Oct. 12 or Oct. 19, or both.
Applications and more information, including a "Junior Pheasant Hunt Planning Guide," can be found on the Pennsylvania Game Commission website. Applications to host junior hunts must be returned to the Pennsylvania Game Commission and received by Friday, July 26.
Junior pheasant hunts help to bolster a youth's interest in small-game hunting, which has seen recent declines in participation. The events provide an opportunity for those youngsters who are interested in hunting, but might not try it on their own, and for those who don't hunt because they don't have anyone to mentor them while afield.
Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe urged local clubs to take part in the effort.
"The future of hunting is directly related to the continuing participation of young Pennsylvanians," Roe said. "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 nearly 1 million hunters."
If your club or organization is interested in hosting an event this year, please contact Samantha Pedder at [email protected] or by phone at 717-787-4250 x 3327.
SOURCE Pennsylvania Game Commission