PENNSYLVANIA’S FALL TURKEY SEASON INCLUDES MENTORED YOUTH
HARRISBURG – As fall turkey season is set to begin tomorrow, Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe urged adult and senior hunters to serve as mentors for the growing Mentored Youth Hunting Program, which now includes fall turkey as part of the line-up of eligible species.
Under the program, an adult mentor transfers his or her fall turkey tag to a mentored youth if the youth harvests a fall turkey. A mentored youth may have only one fall turkey license transferred to him or her per license year. The list of other legal species for the MYHP is: antlered deer; antlerless deer, with the transfer of an antlerless deer license from the adult mentor; coyotes; groundhogs; squirrels and spring gobbler.
“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,” 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 Mentored Youth Hunting Program 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.
“This program paves the way for youngsters to nurture their interest in hunting early and allows them to take a more active role in actual hunting while afield with mentoring adults,” Roe said. “The program accommodates hands-on use of sporting arms and can promote a better understanding and interest in hunting and wildlife conservation that will help assure hunting’s future, as well as reinforce the principles of hunting safely through the close supervision provided by dedicated mentors.”
Under the program, a mentor is defined as a properly licensed individual at least 21 years of age, who will serve as a guide to a youth while engaged in hunting or related activities, such as scouting, learning firearms or hunter safety and wildlife identification. A mentored youth is identified as an unlicensed individual less than 12 years of age who is accompanied by a mentor while engaged in hunting or related activities.
Pennsylvania fall turkey hunters will need to carefully review the fall turkey season dates, which are outlined on page 35 of the 2012-13 Digest, as date structures have changed from previous years.
Season lengths vary in the state’s Wildlife Management Units for fall turkey hunting: WMUs 2B (Shotgun and bow and arrow only) – Oct. 27-Nov. 16, and Nov. 22-24; WMUs 1A, 1B, 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 4A, 4B and 4D – Oct. 27-Nov. 10, and Nov. 22-24; and WMUs 2F, 2G, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4C and 4E – Oct. 27-Nov. 16, and Nov. 22-24. Hunters in these WMUs also have the opportunity to participate in a three-day season during the Thanksgiving holiday, which should improve hunter opportunities. This Thanksgiving holiday season, which will be held Nov. 22-24 in most WMUs, is designed to provide additional hunting opportunities for youth and families when schools and many businesses are closed and, hopefully, to reverse the declining trend in fall turkey hunters.
Fall turkey hunting in WMU 5A was held Oct. 30-Nov. 1; and the fall turkey season is closed in WMUs 5B, 5C and 5D.
Hunters in WMU 5A, for the third consecutive year, had a three-day season after eight years of a closed fall season that was implemented to allow the population to increase. The success in managing the WMU 5A turkey population is shown in reopening the traditional fall turkey hunt. The conservative three-day season is structured to provide recreation without reversing the now expanding population.
The fall season remains closed in WMUs 5B, 5C and 5D because population indices show the overall populations in these units are not stable enough to withstand a fall harvest given the fragmented turkey habitat.
With an abundant mast crop in much of the state spreading out flocks, locating turkeys may take some footwork. However, locating a flock is only part of the hunt, said Mary Jo Casalena, Game Commission wild turkey biologist. Properly setting up and bringing a turkey within range is another challenge, and is what makes turkey hunting simultaneously tricky and enjoyable.
“Please remember to report any leg-banded and/or radio-transmittered turkeys harvested or found,” Casalena said. “Leg bands and transmitters are stamped with a toll-free number to call, and provide important information for the research project being conducted in partnership with the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Penn State University, with funding from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Pennsylvania Chapter of NWTF. These turkeys are legal to harvest and the information provided will help determine turkey survival and harvest rates. Rewards for reporting marked turkeys are made possible by donations from the National Wild Turkey Federation and a portion of the state’s share of the federal Pittman-Robertson program.”
In both spring and fall turkey seasons, it is unlawful to use drives to hunt turkeys. Hunters may take only one turkey in the fall season.
Shot size is limited to no larger than No. 4 lead, bismuth-tin, tungsten-iron or No. 2 steel or No. 4 of any other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-approved nontoxic shot. Turkey hunters also are required to tag their bird before moving it and to report their harvest within 10 days of taking a turkey.
Legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. For more information, please see page 14 of the 2012-13 Digest for the legal hunting hours table. Also, it is lawful to use a dog to pursue, chase, scatter and track wild turkeys during the fall wild turkey season. Hunters are prohibited from using dogs to hunt any other big game animal, including spring gobbler. For minimum orange requirements, please see pages 68-69 of the 2012-13 Digest, as the requirements differ depending on the Wildlife Management Unit.
TAKE A VETERAN FALL TURKEY HUNTING
Pennsylvania Game Commission officials, in partnership with the state chapters of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), are encouraging hunters to help veterans discover or rediscover the thrills and joys of hunting in Pennsylvania, including fall turkey seasons that will be open, especially on Veterans Day, which will be observed on Monday, Nov. 12.
To recognize those who step up to serve as a volunteer guide for a veteran, the Game Commission will conduct a drawing to present six framed fine-art wildlife prints. To be eligible for one of the prints, a participating hunter must submit a brief e-mail that outlines the name and address of the veteran taken afield, type of hunting taken part in, and county where the shared hunt took place. American Legion or VFW members who take another veteran hunting also should include their member number.
All participating hunters, including those not affiliated with the American Legion or VFW must send an e-mail to either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. A drawing will be held to select the six winners from all e-mails received by Dec. 31, 2012.
TURKEY HUNTERS URGED TO BE ATTENTIVE, SAFE
Every fall, hunters head into Pennsylvania's forests and woodlots in pursuit of wild turkeys. According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, it’s one of autumn’s greatest competitions as hunters try to call in their quarries. It's also a time when hunters really need to be in tune with their surroundings.
“Staying alert and making sound shooting decisions will go a long way toward ensuring your safety and the safety of others in turkey season this fall,” said Keith Snyder, Game Commission Hunter-Trapper Education Division chief. “So, too, will always handling your sporting arm in a safe and responsible way.
“The Game Commission has worked with the National Wild Turkey Federation and the agency’s cadre of volunteer hunter-trapper education instructors over the past decade to reverse what was a growing number of turkey hunting-related shooting incidents. Today, Pennsylvania's woods are safer for turkey hunters. But hunters must remain vigilant. Paying attention and hunting safely ensure that your trip afield remains an enjoyable one.”
Snyder said that the Game Commission and NWTF offer the following safety tips:
Positively identify your target! Be certain the bird is fully and plainly visible before pulling the trigger. Don’t shoot at sounds or movement!
Never stalk a turkey! Movement or sounds you think are a turkey may be another hunter. Be patient, and let the bird come to you.
Protect your back! Select a large tree, rock or other natural barrier while calling. Hunt in open woods.
Shout “STOP” to alert approaching hunters! Never move, wave or make turkey sounds to alert others of your position.
Dress to be safe! Never wear red, white, blue or black clothing. These are the colors found on mature gobblers.
Cover up! Don’t carry harvested birds in the open. Cover them with fluorescent orange or completely conceal from view in a game bag.
Be seen! Wear or display the required amount of fluorescent orange, particularly when moving.
In addition, while wearing orange is required for all fall turkey hunters while moving, hunters should consider wearing or posting orange at all times. For orange requirements, please see pages 68-69 of the 2011-12 Digest.
HARVEST REPORTING AVAILABLE VIA POSTCARD, ONLINE OR TELEPHONE
Those participating in the fall turkey season can file their mandatory harvest reports through the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s online system, the toll-free Interactive Voice Response (IVR) reporting system telephone number, which is 1-855-PAHUNT1 (1-855-724-8681), or via postage-paid postcard.
To report a turkey harvest online, go to the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), click on “Report Your Harvest” above the “Quick Clicks” box in the right-hand column, check “Harvest Reporting,” scroll down and click on the “Start Here” button at the bottom of the page, choose the method of validating license information. A series of options will appear for a hunter to report a harvest. After filling in the harvest information, click on the “Continue” button to review the report and then hit the “Submit” button to complete the report. Failing to hit the “Submit” button will result in a harvest report not being completed.
“Hunters who use the toll-free number to submit a harvest report will receive a confirmation number, which they should write down and keep as proof of reporting,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “Those who report online should print or save a copy of their harvest report submission as proof of reporting.”
Roe noted that hunters should have their Customer Identification Number (hunting license number) and field harvest tag information with them when they call. He also stressed callers should speak clearly and distinctly when reporting harvests, especially when providing the Wildlife Management Unit number and letter. Responses to all harvest questions are required.
Roe noted that hunters still have the option to file harvest report postcards, which are included as tear-out sheets in the current digest.
“We certainly are encouraging hunters to use the online reporting system, which will ensure that their harvest is recorded,” Roe said. “Either way, the more important point is that all hunters who harvest a turkey report it to the agency.”