After weeks of controversy about possibly dropping its mentored hunting program, which rankled many veteran hunters and organizations interested in helping get more youth involved in the outdoors, one state wildlife agency reached a compromise of sorts.
A decision given preliminary approval Jan. 27 by the Pennsylvania Game Commission will alllow children under age 7 to still be able to hunt deer and turkeys in the state. But if they kill a deer or turkey then the state-required tag will have to be transferred to them by a licensed adult mentor.
To be able to get their own tags for deer or turkeys, children will have to be at least 7 years old.
“There’s no reason in the world to give a tag to a 1, 2, 3 or 4-year-old kid,” said Dave Putnam, president of the Board of Game Commissioners, in this Lancaster Online report. “They’re not going to be out there using them, so why don’t we just leave the tag in the computer.
“We’re not taking away the ability for the 2-year-old to shoot an antlered buck. If the parent decides, ‘I think little Susie is ready to wail away’ — go ahead. But they have to use their own tag.”
The commission will revisit the decision at its next meeting in April. Until then, no doubt, the commissioners will be hit with all kinds of feedback — pro and con — from concerned hunters and citizens.
Proponents of the mentored youth program, which currently allows youth age 12 and under to obtain deer and turkey tags, say parents should be the ones to decide when their young hunters are ready. Opponents say some adults abuse the system with tags for youngsters who don’t really hunt and are just along with the adult.
What do you think? Should parents be able to decide when their child is ready to hunt and allow them to do so, or should state wildlife agencies set age restrictions? We’d like to hear your comments.