FRANKLIN – On the eve of the special small game seasons for youth, the Pennsylvania Game Commission board of game commissioners gave preliminary approval Tuesday at its final quarterly meeting of the year to a regulatory change to expand antlerless deer hunting opportunities under the Mentored Youth Hunting Program for the 2013-14 license year.

"Sporting organizations and other interested groups have continued to express an interest in having the Game Commission expand the Mentored Youth Hunting Program opportunities," board president Ralph Martone said. "These groups support this proposed change in regulations to permit the transfer of no more than one Deer Management Assistance Program permit to a mentored youth hunter per license year.

"This change, along with the recent addition of fall turkey hunting (to the MYHP) creates a wide range of opportunities for young hunters. This action will not significantly affect the DMAP antlerless deer harvest and is consistent with the goal of providing additional mentored youth hunting opportunities and will work in the same manner as the recent change in regulations to allow adult mentors to transfer one wildlife management unit-specific antlerless deer license to a mentored youth."

If the change receives final approval at a subsequent board meeting, which it will most likely receive in January, beginning in the 2013-14 license year, adult mentors would be authorized to transfer one DMAP harvest permit issued to them to an eligible mentored youth. The DMAP harvest permit must be valid for the property on which the pair is hunting, and in the possession of the adult mentor at all times while hunting antlerless deer.

Adult mentors may transfer the DMAP harvest permit to mentored youths only after the youth harvests an antlerless deer. A mentored youth may receive by transfer no more than one DMAP harvest permit each license year, and as is the case with antlerless deer licenses, a mentored youth is ineligible to make direct application for a DMAP harvest permit.

Meanwhile, the special season for juniors who have completed their hunter-trapper education course, with or without a license, and those in the MYHP, opens Saturday, Oct. 6, for squirrels. Also, the special season for eligible juniors only opens that day for rabbit and pheasant.

"Since 2006, Pennsylvania's hunters have been taking advantage of a remarkable opportunity to introduce those under the age of 12 to hunting through the Mentored Youth Hunting Program, and we have seen a steady increase in the number of MYHP permits issued," PGC executive director Carl Roe said. "Hunting is deeply woven into the cultural fabric that defines Pennsylvania, and it is important that we recruit new hunters to carry on this tradition."

Roe noted that the logic behind the MYHP is simple and clear: create expanded youth hunting opportunities without compromising safety afield. In 2009, the first year a permit was required to participate in the MYHP, the agency issued 28,542 permits; in 2010, the agency issued 30,790; and in 2011, the number of permits issued increased to 33,514.

For more information on the MYHP, access the PGC website at http://www.pgc.state.pa.us/, place the cursor over the "Hunt/Trap" button in the menu bar at the top of the page, click on "Hunting" and then click on "Mentored Youth Hunting Program FAQs" in the "Related Links" section. Information also is included on Page 15 of the "2012-13 Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest" that is provided with each hunting license.