Never too early for deer licenses

Commentary

On Monday, the new Pennsylvania hunting licenses go on sale. Then the first round of resident antlerless deer licenses go on sale July 9. So waste no time acquiring your new hunting license and then meeting the July 9 deadline.

Non-residents can apply for a doe license on July 16. The second round of bonus tags go on sale Aug. 6 for residents and Aug. 20 for non-residents.

The Game Commission has announced that the dreaded CWD disease has been found in two deer on a Greenfield Township farm. The only reason these two deer were found to be diseased is that they were both killed by a Black Bear and then by law, had to be tested. The disease cannot be detected on live deer.

This news makes hunters jittery about hunting deer in management area 4-D. At first, hunters were told that CWD did not affect humans but in the last couple years, the Game Commission has advised hunters not to eat the meat of an infected deer. Fact is, no one seems to know for sure if humans are susceptible to catching the disease from eating meat from a deer that has it.

More and more of us are going after antlerless deer in other counties in our state so if you want to get an antlerless license in another county be sure you check the address for where you send it and do it on time.

A Pennsylvania tabloid newspaper called Outdoors News is offering something special for all young hunters/would-be hunters in the state.

The club is for all boys and girls under the age of 18 who love the outdoors and that includes fishing, hunting, trapping, shooting or just watching wildlife. There will be events, classes a membership card and various prizes and other benefits offered to these young folks. To start with, membership is free in the club.

Various industry pros have offered their time to share with youngsters their expertise in various themes of the outdoors with the intent to simply increase the participation of young people in the outdoor sports.

The free membership in the Outdoor News Junior Pro team includes: instant access to hunting and fishing videos and photos from across the country. It also means they will have opportunity to win weekly prizes like fishing lures and hunting gear. Members will get a free membership card and decal.

This effort is just getting started. Here’s the information you need to sign up. Website: jrproteam.com. Also Twitter address is @jptoutdoornews.com. Facebook: @Outdoor NewsJunior Pro Team.

Here’s a good place for young folks to get tips and facts and information and hands-on activities to help them learn to love the outdoors.

For the last couple of decades, local sportsmen’s clubs with the cooperation of the Game Commission have sponsored Youth Field Days. These are exciting events for youth, with displays and fishponds and shooting ranges and archery ranges, turkey calling displays door prizes and other contests that make a very exciting day for youth and give them a good beginning into the outdoor sports.

The Game Commission’s Youth Mentoring Program has been quite successful and the few special youth day hunts also mean a lot to young hunters. It is a great experience for the youth hunter to have a day to hunt when he can be really instructed and guided while actually hunting, by an experienced hunter.

Why the number of new hunters has been declining has been a matter of controversy over the years. It really is significant that our societies are really much more urban than in days gone by. Kids don’t get the country life anymore. They don’t have to chop wood or milk cows or make hay these days. They are not exposed to wildlife on an almost everyday basis. They don’t learn the cycles of life among animals as a natural thing as children brought up on farms do. I believe this is a significant factor. It goes along with being anti-gun I suppose.

I talk to many children in my church contacts, and public speaking events and find that a large percentage have no idea where an egg actually comes from or that milk comes from cows. Also, if I mention that I hunt around most young people, they shrink away from me and accuse me of being a murderer of “poor innocent animals.”

My usual retort to this type of drivel is simply to ask them who kills their chicken nuggets they are then munching on, or their Thanksgiving turkey for them.

Society is much more anti-hunting today than it was when I took it up in the 1950s. It goes along with being anti-gun, I suppose.

Add to the mix that the addiction of young people to their smart phones these days seems to fill all their needs for a pastime of any kind or place. And the plethora of after-school clubs and sports simply fills up most of their spare time.

There are many other reasons for the decline of new hunters that I haven’t mentioned here and they are debated endlessly. But deer hunting has always been the pillar for Pennsylvania hunters and having deer now so threatened by disease as they are surely does not attract new folks to the pursuit of them.

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