Pennsylvania Game Commission launches adult mentor initiative
Better late to the game than never? That’s the mindset the Pennsylvania Game Commission is fully embracing as scores of new adult hunters purchase their very first licenses with intent to venture afield this fall. To help welcome these novice hunters to the fold, and making every effort to retain them, the commission is launching a series of mentorship programs aimed at pointing first-timers in the right direction.
“Recruiting new hunters while retaining existing ones is a priority for the Game Commission,” the agency’s Director of Information and Education Steve Smith said. “Over the past two years, the number of individuals who purchase a hunting license has increased in Pennsylvania. These programs will allow us to provide resources to those new hunters, as well as those who are interested in hunting but haven’t yet given it a try, to prepare them for the seasons ahead.”
The commission will be hosting free webinars to provide new and existing hunters of all ages the information and resources needed to be successful this fall. The courses cover topics such as finding places to hunt, selecting a firearm, an overview of regulations, biology of game species, hunting tips and tactics, and preparing wild game for the table.
The series kicked off with a “Squirrel Hunting 101” webinar on Aug. 19 and an in-person class, held at the Harrisburg headquarters on Aug. 25. Additional live webinars will be on Sept. 9 and Sept. 21, beginning at 7 p.m.
The series continues into October with a “Pheasant Hunting 101” webinar at 7 p.m. on Oct. 7 and again on Oct. 26, and another in-person class to be held October 19.
The webinars are about an hour long, while live classes last around two hours. Both are hosted by Game Commission staff and include a live question and answer session at the end.
Advanced registration is required at the Learn to Hunt page on the agency’s website at http://bit.ly/pgclearntohunt. It is not necessary for participants to have completed a Hunter-Trapper Education course, or to have purchased a hunting license to attend the webinars, which will be recorded and available for later viewing.
The Learn to Hunt curriculum is in addition to online resources recently made available, including a free online bowhunter education and safety course, and a Hunter-Trapper Education course. More information on these courses is available at the Commission’s Hunter-Trapper Education page: https://bit.ly/pgchuntered.
Also new this year are special mentored hunting opportunities to be held at one of the state’s premier wildlife management areas located in southeastern Pennsylvania’s Lebanon and Lancaster counties.
“The Pennsylvania Game Commission is excited to offer new mentored hunt opportunities this fall at Middle Creek WMA, as part of our agency’s effort to help first-time adult hunters gain the skills and experience necessary to hunt on their own,” Hunting Program Coordinator Derek Stoner said.
Following a concept designed by Middle Creek Manager Lauren Ferreri, the hunts will focus on using shotguns to hunt squirrels on Sept. 18 and crossbows to hunt deer from Oct. 2-9. Mandatory training sessions will allow new hunters to meet their mentor, learn hunting tactics, and take a shooting proficiency test. Volunteers from the Pennsylvania Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers have offered to serve as mentors to the hunters, working in partnership with the Game Commission to make it a great experience.
“We already offer a strong slate of mentored hunts for youth hunters, and these new hunts allow us to reach an audience of adults of all ages who are interested in getting started and simply need guidance from experienced mentors. Through providing training sessions, the necessary equipment, and dedicated volunteer mentors, the agency is boosting the growth of hunting among new adult participants,” Stoner said.
All applicants must have a 2021-2022 Mentored Adult Hunting Permit to participate. Interested individuals can receive further details about applying for the hunts by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.