Programs that help youngsters get the right start in hunting are among the wisest things Sportsmen's Clubs and the Game Commission have undertaken in recent years. This year, opportunities for youth hunters are open for those interested in pheasant or waterfowl or both.
I've had the opportunity often to march along through corn or grass fields behind youngsters out on their first-ever hunt . These wonderful events for youngsters take a lot of cooperation from landowners who allow the young hunters- to- be on their land, to professional dog trainers who usually bring their best bird dogs to rustle up birds for the youngsters to hunt to hunter safety instructors and many others who cooperate to put these helpful events on.
And it takes dedication on the part of individual hunters who look for youngsters they can assist and bring them to the events and help them in every way.
Junior hunters this fall will get two shots at taking part in a special pheasant hunt just for them. The Pennsylvania Game Commission this year is allowing the sportsmen's clubs that host Junior Pheasant Hunts some leeway in planning their events. In previous years, all Junior Pheasant Hunt events statewide were held on the same Saturday. But this year, clubs are permitted to host events on either Saturday in the junior pheasant season. And some clubs have responded by scheduling two events Oct. 12 and Oct. 19.
Junior Pheasant Hunts are for youngsters between the ages of 12 and 16 who have successfully completed a Hunter-Trapper Education course. The events are held on Saturdays during the one-week junior pheasant season, which this year runs from Saturday, Oct. 12 to Saturday, Oct. 19.
Junior Pheasant Hunts all are held on lands open to public hunting, and the Game Commission provides clubs with about 3,000 pheasants to stock for the hunts. The Commission stocks another 15,000 pheasants statewide ahead of the junior season, and this year plans to release more than 200,000 pheasants across Pennsylvania.
Youngsters taking part in a Junior Pheasant Hunt event are not required to purchase a license, but they must wear the necessary amount of fluorescent orange and be accompanied as required by law. Juniors who register to hunt in a special event, or who otherwise hunt pheasants in the junior season, must adhere to Pennsylvania's long-standing daily bag limit of two pheasants and may only harvest cock pheasants in select wildlife management units.
Space is limited for most events, and the registration deadline is Sept. 25.
Those looking to register for events, can click on the Junior Pheasant Hunt button on the home page of the Game Commissions website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) Registration can be completed online. Information on Junior Pheasant Hunts also can be found by scrolling the cursor over in the menu bar at the top of the home page, then following this sequence: Click on Go Hunting and Shooting, then Youth Programs,"Junior Pheasant Hunt program.
Bedford County Sportsmen's Club will host two junior pheasant hunts in Bedford on Oct. 12 and 19. Fifty juniors will be accepted for each hunt. Register online at www.register-ed.com
/events/view/ on Oct. 12 or www.register-ed.com
/events/for the hunt on Oct. 19. The deadline to register is Sept. 25. Contact Chad or Kelly Kendall at 847-2558 or email ckkendall
@embarqmail.com after registering to verify hunt times. Bedford-Fulton Pheasants Forever Chapter No. 741 will host its junior pheasant hunt on State Game Lands 97 on Oct. 12. Up to 30 juniors can participate and the deadline to register is Sept. 25. Register online at www
Blair County Smokey Run Rod & Gun Club, Martinsburg Sportsman Club, Henrietta Sportsman Club, and Loop Sportsman Club will host a junior pheasant hunt on State Game Lands 147 for 25 juniors on Oct. 12. The deadline to register is Sept. 25.
Pennsylvania hunters will have two special days of waterfowl hunting on Saturday and Saturday, Sept. 21. The Junior Waterfowl Days will be open to those 12 to 15 years old who hold a junior hunting license. To participate, a youngster must be accompanied by an adult, who may assist the juniors in calling, duck identification and other aspects of the hunt. During these two special hunts, juniors can harvest Canada geese, ducks, mergansers, coots and moorhens.
The daily bag limit for juniors participating in the Junior Waterfowl Days is the same as for the regular season daily limit in the area being hunted. The only exception is when September Canada goose daily bag limits exceed the regular season limit for the area being hunted; juniors then can take the September daily limit.
Waterfowl hunters are reminded that on the junior waterfowl hunting days, Sept. 14 and 21, hunting hours for all waterfowl species closes at sunset. For the remainder of the Sept. 2 to 25 Canada goose season, hunting hours close at one-half hour after sunset.
Federal frameworks specify that for most migratory game bird seasons, hunting hours must close at sunset,Exceptions currently are in place to allow The Game Commission again will hold a special junior-only waterfowl hunting day at the controlled hunting blinds at both Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area and Pymatuning Wildlife Management Area. The junior day for Middle Creek is Nov. 16; and for Pymatuning it is, Nov. 30. A special drawing of applications submitted by junior license holders will be held immediately before the regular drawing for goose blinds. Interested juniors should use the same application on page 28 of the 2013-14 Digest. Only one application will be accepted per junior hunter.
In addition to a regular Pennsylvania hunting license, persons 16 and older must have a Federal Migratory Bird and Conservation Stamp, commonly referred to as a Duck Stamp, signed in ink across its face.
These are priceless oppportunities for young hunters to get the right start in a lifetime passion for the outdoors.