PA Board of Game Commissioners Simplify Mentored Programs
Initially open only to youth under 12, Pennsylvania’s mentored hunting program has expanded incrementally in recent years to offer opportunities to unlicensed hunters of all ages.
Because the program is a tool to recruit new hunters, it only made sense to open it to everybody.
But phasing-in program eligibility for hunters of different ages brought about a mix of different rules that many found confusing to follow – potentially undermining the goal of hunter recruitment.
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners adopted new standards that simplify the program and make it more uniform for hunters of all ages.
First, mentored hunters of all ages now are eligible to hunt the same species. This expands opportunities in each age class and eliminates confusion about which species different-aged hunters may hunt.
Secondly, while mentored hunters under the age of 7 will continue to be issued permits that do not contain deer or turkey harvest tags – meaning the deer and turkey tags they use will continue to be provided through transfer from their adult mentors – mentored hunters of all other ages will be issued their own tags.
And finally, mentored hunters ages 7 and older now can apply for their own antlerless deer licenses and Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permits, as well as migratory bird licenses and pheasant permits.
With the changes, all mentored hunters may hunt the following species: rabbit, snowshoe hare, ruffed grouse, mourning doves, bobwhite quail, pheasants, crows, squirrels, porcupines, woodchucks, coyotes, deer and wild turkeys.
Safety requirements that prohibit mentored hunters under 17 from carrying a firearm while moving, limit mentors to accompanying one youngster at a time, and require the mentor and mentored hunter under 17 to possess no more than one sporting arm between them to remain unchanged.