October is the time for the World Series, football, and trick or treat. October also presents many opportunities to take the kids outdoors and get them involved in special youth hunts. The youth squirrel hunt is open October 8 – 14 for junior hunters, ages 12 to 16 without or with a license. They must have completed a hunter-trapper safety course and be accompanied by an adult. Mentored youth under the age of twelve can participate after securing a permit from the game commission. They must be accompanied by a licensed adult at least 21 years of age. Mentored youth are not required to have a hunter-trapper safety course.
The junior pheasant season and junior cottontail season is October 8 – 15 for kids ages 12 to 16, with or without a license, accompanied by a licensed adult, and having successfully completed a hunter-trapper safety course. Mentored youth cannot participate in this junior hunt.
October 20 – 22 is the statewide junior antlerless deer season. Junior hunters are required to have the proper licenses to participate.
Though it didn’t pass in time to be in the “Hunting & Trapping Digest”, mentored youth can harvest an antlerless deer for the first time this year, including the October junior season. When hunting antlerless deer, the adult mentor must be in possession of a valid antlerless deer license that can be transferred to the youth if he/she harvests an antlerless deer. The field harvest tag is to be completed by the youth and attached to the carcass; however, the reporting of the harvest is to be completed by the adult mentor as if they had harvested the deer.
In addition to squirrels and antlerless deer, mentored youth are permitted to hunt groundhogs, coyotes, and antlered deer. They can participate in the spring gobbler season but not the fall turkey season. When hunting antlered deer, a mentored youth can follow the same antler restrictions that junior hunters follow.
The mentored youth must tag and report any antlered deer taken. With the new permit required for participants, mentored youth will now have the field harvest tag that must be attached to any antlered deer harvested. Also, the youth must report his or her harvest, which can be done online, or by mailing a harvest report card, within five days. Mentored youth can see a sample carcass tag and use the harvest report card available in the “Hunting & Trapping Digest”. The mentored youth may not use the mentor’s tags or harvest report cards if the youth harvests an antlered deer.
Even if a child is not ready to hunt yet, he or she can accompany an adult licensed hunter or trapper as an observer. The child can’t participate in the hunt in any way and must wear the required amount of fluorescent orange.
There are more hunting opportunities for youth than ever before. The days are still long enough for some groundhog hunting after school. Or go for a few hours on a Saturday. Some people have Columbus Day, October 10, off and that may be a good
day to go hunting with a child.
For more information about seasons and bag limits, or the Mentored Youth Hunting Program, visit www.pgc.state.pa.us and click on “Hunt/Trap”. Have fun, be safe and enjoy the cooler weather. — Roxane Palone