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Still Time to Plan for Junior Hunts

 

While Pennsylvania’s junior pheasant hunt seems like a long way off, Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe noted that now is the time for hunting clubs to make plans to host an organized junior pheasant hunt or other special hunts that have been established for squirrels, rabbits, waterfowl or spring gobbler.

“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.

“To maximize this opportunity for younger hunters, and to ensure we pass along the importance of ethics and sound ideals that have shaped our hunting heritage, the game commission urges local clubs to consider hosting a junior pheasant hunt or other special junior hunts in their communities.”

Those clubs interested in hosting a junior pheasant hunt are encouraged to use the 26-page planning guide prepared by the game commission and the Pennsylvania State Chapter of Pheasants Forever.  The booklet offers a step-by-step guide on how to develop an organized junior pheasant hunt.  The guide book includes a sample timeline, suggested committees and assignments, general event planning considerations and several sample forms and news releases.  It also includes event evaluation guides so clubs and organizations may consider changes for future junior pheasant hunts.

Roe noted that the junior pheasant guide can be adapted and used by clubs to host other special hunts, including rabbit, squirrel, waterfowl and spring gobbler.

To view the guide, go to the game commission’s website, put your cursor over “Hunt/Trap” in the menu bar at the top of the page, click on “Hunting” in the drop-down menu listing, select the “Pheasant” in the “Small Game” listing, and choose “Junior Pheasant Hunt Planning Guide” in the Junior Pheasant Hunt section. 

Once a club schedules a junior hunt, they can submit the information for posting on the game commission’s on-line “Special Hunts” calendar, which enables those looking to participate in a special junior hunts to locate, and register on-line for, an opportunity near them.  Clubs that want to have their junior hunt advertised in the “Special Hunts” calendar should contact Julie Imes, Game Commission Outreach Coordinator, at junoll@state.pa.us, or at 717-787-4250 (ext. 3327). 

“All youth who register for a youth hunt using this on-line calendar receive a free, one-year subscription to Game News,” Imes said.  “Also, real-time registration information of how many participants are signed up is one benefit to clubs having their event included in the ‘Special Hunts’ calendar, in addition to reaching more potential participants.” 

To bolster participation in the junior pheasant hunt, the game commission again plans to stock pheasants just prior to this special season.  For the 2011 hunt, the agency will release 15,000 birds on lands open to public hunting.  These areas will be identified in the 2011-2012 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations, as well as in future game commission news releases and on the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us).

Additionally, the game commission will provide, free of charge, a limited number of pheasants to those clubs that host a junior pheasant hunt. Applications must be received by July 22, and the only two stipulations to be eligible are that clubs must have registration open to the public and the hunt must be held on lands open to public hunting.

To participate in these junior hunts, youngsters must be 12 to 16 years of age, and must have successfully completed a basic Hunter-Trapper Education course.  As required by law, an adult must accompany the young hunters.  Participating hunters do not need to purchase a junior hunting license to take part in the junior hunt, but all participants must comply with the mandatory fluorescent orange requirements established for the season.

Based on previous surveys of junior pheasant hunt participants, about half of the juniors successfully bag game; a male relative had accompanied most of them; the majority of participants were between the ages of 12 and 14, and many of them intend to hunt again.  The agency also received many positive comments about the junior hunting opportunity.

Pheasants Forever is a national non-profit habitat conservation organization with a system of hard-working local chapter volunteers dedicated to the protection and enhancement of pheasants and other wildlife populations.  Pheasants Forever emphasizes habitat improvement, public awareness and education, and land management policies that benefit private landowners and wildlife alike.  For more information, visit the organization’s website at www.pheasantsforever.org.

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