HARRISBURG – It is said that those who hesitate lose opportunity.
That is especially true for sportsmen who belong to clubs and organization that want to pass on our hunting heritage to youngsters through the special Pennsylvania Game Commission Youth Pheasant Hunt. This year's special season for eligible hunters between the ages of 12-16, with or without a Junior Hunting License, opens Saturday, Oct. 9, and then continues Monday-Saturday, Oct. 11-16, with a two-bird daily limit and a four-bird possession limit after opening day.
Clubs planning to make their ground available for junior pheasant hunting have until Saturday, July 31, to apply for a limited number of pheasants that the PGC is making available at no cost. In order to qualify for the birds, clubs must have registration open to the public and must hold hunts on land that is open to public hunting.
In addition to making pheasants available to clubs for stocking, the PGC will make participation in the junior pheasant hunt more attractive by stocking above and beyond previous stockings that will have been done for the opening of the regular, statewide pheasant season, Saturday, Oct. 23. This year, 15,000 additional birds will be stocked on land open to public hunting, and these areas are identified in the "2010-11 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations" provided with each hunting license, in future news releases and on the agency Web site at www.pgc.state.pa.us.
While youth between the ages of 12-16 are not required to purchase a Junior License to participate in the junior pheasant season, they must have successfully completed a basic Hunter-Trapper Education course. In addition, they must wear the mandatory 250 square inches of fluorescent orange material on their head, chest and back combined, visible from 360 degrees and be accompanied by an adult.
"Right now, Pennsylvania's junior pheasant hunt seems like a long way off, but now is the time for clubs to make plans to hold an organized hunt and apply for pheasants," PGC executive director Carl Roe said. "Clearly, the future of hunting is directly related to the continuing participation of young Pennsylvanians, and if we are to preserve our heritage we must meet the goal of successfully competing with all the other activities and recreational opportunities that vie for a young person's time.
"This is 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 and Pheasants Forever urge local clubs to consider hosting a junior pheasant hunt in their community."
As a way of encouraging clubs to get involved in the Youth Pheasant Season, a 26-page planning guide has been prepared by the PGC and the Pennsylvania State Chapter of Pheasants Forever. This comprehensive booklet offers a step-by-step guide on how to develop an organized junior pheasant hunt.
Featured in the guidebook is a sample timeline, suggested committees and assignments, general event planning considerations, several sample forms and news releases. It also includes event evaluation guides so clubs and organizations may consider changes for future junior pheasant hunts.
Contents of the guide can be viewed on the PGC Web site by clicking on "Hunting" in the left-hand column of the homepage, then selecting the pheasant photo and then choosing "Junior Pheasant Hunt Planning Guide." Later this year, the agency will update this section to include a listing of locations that it plans to release birds for junior pheasant hunts and a listing of all the junior pheasant hunts being hosted by local clubs.
"Based on previous surveys, about half of the junior participants successfully bagged game and were accompanied by a male relative, and the majority of participants were between the ages of 12 and 14," Roe said. "Many of the participants said they intend to hunt again, and the agency also received many positive comments about the junior hunting opportunity."
Roe also praised the involvement of Pheasants Forever, the national non-profit habitat conservation organization with a system of aggressive-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.
Additional information on Pheasants Forever is available by accessing its Web site at www.pheasantsforever.org.