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Adult mentored hunting program on horizon in Pennsylvania

| Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, 9:54 p.m.

Pennsylvania was the first state to offer a mentored youth hunting program in 2006.

Now, it's poised to roll out an adult version.

Pennsylvania game commissioners have given preliminary approval to an adult apprentice hunter program.

If it gets final approval when the board meets in April, those 18 and older will be able to give hunting a try starting this fall without first having to pass a hunter education course.

Similar programs offered in other states have succeeded, doing especially well at reaching women and urban residents, said commissioner Ralph Martone of New Castle.

Apprentices will have to deal with some restrictions.

While they won't have to get a license, they will have to purchase a mentor permit that costs just about as much. Resident mentor permits will cost $19.70, while nonresident permits will cost $100.70.

Apprentices also will be limited in what species they can hunt. Antlered deer will be off limits.

They can shoot a doe but only if their mentors give them their doe tag or deer management assistance program permit. Even then, they will be allowed one antlerless deer per year.

They will be able to hunt squirrels, grouse, rabbits, pheasants, bobwhite quail, snowshoe hares, porcupines, woodchucks, crows, turkeys and coyotes, however.

Once an apprentice buys his first permit, the clock starts ticking. Adults would have three years to try hunting before deciding whether to stick with the sport.

“That's three consecutive years,” said commissioner Brian Hoover of Delaware County. “Once you start, everything ends in three years.”

Adults experimenting with hunting also would have to stay within “easy verbal communication distance” of the other adult introducing them to the sport, said Rich Palmer, director of the commission's bureau of wildlife protection.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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