Reps. Goodman and Gillespie praise move to expand Pennsylvania’s mentored hunting programs

HARRISBURG, Jan. 29 – State Reps. Neal P. Goodman and Keith Gillespie, who championed legislation to bridge the state’s mentored youth and mentored adult hunting programs, hailed a vote today by the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners that will make that change through a regulation.

 

The measure approved by commissioners will allow unlicensed people younger than 17 to participate in the mentored youth program, and will allow those 17 or older to participate in the mentored adult program. The change is expected to take effect this summer, after the regulation is reviewed and advertised.

 

Goodman and Gillespie have long been concerned that the mentored hunting programs bypassed people 12 to 17 years old, which they said was an important demographic to reach, and had introduced bills to address that. Their bills passed the state House unanimously during the past legislative sessions, but died in the Senate.

 

“I’m pleased with today’s action by the Board of Game Commissioners,” said Goodman, a Schuylkill County Democrat who is an avid hunter. “Introducing more young people to the sport we love will lead many of them to become hunters and continue this great Pennsylvania tradition.”

 

“From valuable time spent outdoors to the value of responsibility, hunting teaches so many lessons that carry over into other facets of life,” added Gillespie, majority chairman of the House Game and Fisheries Committee. “I’m glad to see the commissioners act as they did in recognizing the investment we are making by exposing more of our youth to the sport we as adults love.”

 

“We fully support the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s decision to open up mentored hunting for middle school and high school kids,” said Sportsmen’s Alliance President Evan Heusinkveld. “We’re greatly appreciate of Representative Goodman and Chairman Gillespie’s continual efforts over the years to keep this on the front burner while the Commission made its decision.”

 

Mentored hunting programs introduce people to hunting through the one-on-one guidance of an experienced hunter without committing to taking the hunter/trapper safety education course or buying a license.

 

Mentored hunters may hunt only certain game species and must follow other requirements.

 

Mentored youth may hunt only squirrels, rabbits, doves, woodchucks, coyotes, deer and turkeys. Mentored youth under the age of 7 do not receive their own big-game harvest tags; their adult mentors must possess a valid harvest tag when hunting deer or turkeys, and the mentor must transfer the tag to the mentored youth upon harvest by the mentored youth. Additionally, the mentor and mentored youth may possess only one sporting arm between them, and it must be carried by the mentor at all times while moving.

 

Mentored adults may hunt only squirrels, ruffed grouse, rabbits, pheasants (pheasant permit required), bobwhite quail, hares, porcupines, woodchucks, crows, coyotes, antlerless deer and turkeys. Mentored adults receive only a spring turkey tag with their permits. To harvest a fall turkey, their mentor must possess a valid fall-turkey harvest tag; and to harvest an antlerless deer, their mentor must possess a valid antlerless license or Deer Management Assistance Program permit; then transfer the applicable harvest tag to the mentored adult at the time of harvest. A mentored adult must hunt within eyesight of the mentor, and a mentored adult can only participate in the program for a total of three, unbroken license years.

 

Under the measure, that three-year maximum would apply to all mentored hunters ages 12 or older. After three years in the program, they would be required to get a license.

 

Mentored youth hunters under 12 would continue to be able to take part in the program each year until they turn 12. However, youngsters who participated in the mentored youth program for at least three years before turning 12 would be required to get a license at 12, rather than continuing as a mentored hunter.

 

If the measure moved forward by commissioners is adopted, mentored youth hunters under 12 would continue to pay $2.90 for their permits, resident mentored youth hunters ages 12 to 17 would pay $6.90 for their permits, nonresident mentored youth hunter ages 12 to 17 would pay $41.90 for their permits, and mentored adult hunters would continue to pay $20.90 for residents and $101.90 for nonresidents.