Pennsylvania is again reaping the rewards of its expanded efforts at recruiting new sportsmen into the fold through the Mentored Youth Hunting Program. According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, it issued nearly 30,000 mentored youth hunting permits during the 2009-2010 hunting season, bringing the state's total to more than 100,000 since passing a Families Afield measure in 2005.

This success illustrates the effectiveness of the Families Afield Program, developed by the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the National Wild Turkey Federation, at reducing barriers and encouraging the participation of newcomers. As a direct result of the program, Pennsylvania has seen an increase in the number of hunting licenses it has sold.

Pennsylvania's Mentored Youth Hunting Program was authorized when Gov. Ed Rendell signed HB 1690, Dec. 22, 2005. The bill was part of the Families Afield campaign which continues as a nationwide joint effort between the founding organizations and since its beginning in 2004 has been adopted by 30 states and has resulted in recruiting more than 418,000 new hunters.

"The Families Afield initiative has always been about getting reducing barriers for new hunters entering the field," USSA president and CEO Bud Pidgeon said. "Pennsylvania is the hallmark of how successful the Families Afield program can become for the many states that have embraced it over the last six years."

In addition to more youth licenses sold, the PGC has recently hired a recruitment and retention coordinator to keep new hunters engaged in the outdoors. This includes the publication of a "Youth Hunting Guide" and connecting Pennsylvania students to the National Archery in the Schools Program which teaches archery in physical education classes for grades 4-12.

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A "Women's Pheasant Hunt" will be held for those age 18 and older who have passed the Hunter-Trapper Education Course or are licenses hunters, Friday, Sept. 24, at Pheasant Valley Farm Preserve near Robesonia.

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Pre-registration is required, and participants check-in at 8:45 a.m. the day of the event, which is followed by a safety seminar, a round of clays and the hunt – with shells being provided and shotguns, if necessary. Participants will then be divided into foursomes for a guided hunt over a dog, and after lunch which is included in the $20 registration fee – the hunt will resume for those who have not downed their four birds.

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To register access the Pennsylvania Game Commission website at www.pgc.state.pa.us, click on "Education" in the menu bar at the top of the page, scroll down to "Special Events and Programs" and click on Events Manager. Registration also can be completed by contacting Karen Keen at 215-721-8732, or at karinagspbt@comcast.net.

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Today's guest of Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association member Doyle Dietz on "Experience the Outdoors," from 7:30-8 a.m. on Oldies 1410-AM is "Petersen's Bowhunting" magazine editor Christian Berg. A rebroadcast will be heard Sunday from 9:30-10 a.m. on WMGH, 105.5-FM, and is available on the Web at www.wmgh.com by clicking on the "Experience the Outdoors" link.

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A 3-D course is open for public use from dawn to dusk at Bear's Head Sportsmen's Association, Delano, located off Exit 134 of Interstate 81, daily through Saturday, Oct. 23. Donations are accepted and for information call the clubhouse at 570-467-0331 or e-mail docblazer@verizon.net.

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A trap shoot will be held, Thursday, Aug. 19, beginning at 6 p.m., at Orwigsburg Gun Club, Gun Club Road, off Route 443 East, Orwigsburg. For information, e-mail jafone@comcast.net.

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A series of basic kayaking courses will be held at Tuscarora State Park, and kayaks, paddles and life vests will be provided for those meeting the maximum weight capacity of 275 pounds.

Courses will be held Sunday, Aug. 15, from 9:30–11:30 a.m.; and Saturday, Aug. 28, from 2-4 p.m. Pre-registration is required, either in person at the park or by calling the park office at 570-467-2506, at $15 for those using park equipment or $5 for those using their own equipment.

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This year's Empire State Lake Ontario Fall Tournament will be held from Friday, Aug. 20, through Monday, Sept. 6. For information and registration, access on the Web at www.loc.org or call (888) 733-5246.

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Schuylkill County Trout Unlimited meets Tuesday, Aug. 24, Sept. 28, Oct. 26, Nov. 23, Dec. 21, beginning at 7 p.m., at Yorkville Fire Company, South 20th and West Norwegian Sts., Pottsville. For information, call Randy Emerich at 570-622-1252 or access on the Web at www.schuylkilltu.org.

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This year's "Lehigh Valley Hunting and Fishing Extravaganza" will be held Friday-Sunday, Aug. 27-29, at Kempton Fairground. For information, contact Bob Danenhower at 610-398-7609 and bobstaxidermy@ptd.net or Rick Weaknecht at 610-683-7405 and pahunter2005@hotmail.com.

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Columbia County Open Buddy Bass Tournament will be held, Sunday, Aug. 29, Susquehanna River, Shickshinny; Sept. 19, Susquehanna River, Danville; Nov. 7, Williamsport Linden Access Area; 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. For information, call tournament director Mike Monico at 570-752-3223.

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Schuylkill Spurs Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation meets, Thursday, Sept. 2, beginning at 7:30 p.m., at West Penn Archery, South Tamaqua. For information, call Kevin Titus at 570-668-5903.

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A muzzleloader shoot and rendezvous will be held Friday-Monday, Sept. 3-6, with separate pre-1840 primitive and modern camping areas and shooting events Saturday and Sunday, at Blue Ridge Rifles Muzzleloader Club, Coon Club Road, off Route 183, south of Summit Station. For information, call Cathy Bates at 610-489-3878 or Betty Dietz at 570-489-3878.

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First Frontier Militia, the muzzleloader arm of Bowmanstown Rod and Gun Club, will hold muzzleloader shoots on the following dates: Sunday, Sept. 12, Oct. 9 and 10, Nov. 14 and Dec. 12, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bowmanstown Rod and Gun Club is located on Gun Club Road, off Route 248, Bowmanstown. For information, call Roger Fisher at 610-377-2812.

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This year's "Pennsylvania Bowhunters Festival" will be held Friday-Sunday, Sept. 17-19, at Sullivan County Fairground, Forksville, beginning daily at 6 a.m. For information, call Bill Feese at 570-525-3635, e-mail info@pabowhunters.com or access on the Web at www.pabowhunters.com .

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This year's "Hawk Mountain Wildlife Art Show" will be held Saturday and Sunday, Sept 25 and 26, at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Kempton. For information call the visitor center at 610-756-6961.

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This year's "Schuylkill County Friends of NRA Banquet" will be held Thursday, Sept. 30, beginning at 5 p.m., at the Schuylkill Mall. For additional information or reservations, call Mike McCord at 570-628-1382.