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Mentor Doe Hunt is a success

OUTDOORS WITH JAKE

Mentor Doe Hunt is not quite the name of the season. It’s a collective name of all of the deer hunting seasons where a young prospective hunter can harvest a doe. A recent change in the law now allows for a mentored young hunter to harvest an antlerless deer by using the license of the adult they are hunting with. The idea behind it is to allow a mentor (adult, licensed hunter) to give up one of their antlerless deer licenses to a youngster (under 12 years of age) involved in the mentored hunting program.

I wasn’t quite sure just how many people would take advantage of the new law but now I’m convinced it’s a success. We started receiving photos of young hunters with their antlerless deer shortly after the archery season began. Fathers and other mentors were happily giving up one of their licenses in order for a youngster to tag their first deer. The number of photos sent to Pennsylvania Outdoor Life quadrupled after the three day youth antlerless hunt held two weeks ago. Once again we received photos of nine, ten and eleven year olds proudly sitting by their harvest.

The decision as to what age is old enough or too young is up to the parent or legal guardian. I have hunted turkeys with a more than qualified nine year old and I have seen some very immature eleven year olds who I wouldn’t hunt with. The choice has been left up to the parent at hand. I just hope they consider the individual’s maturity level at the time. Non-the-less the new law is a winner in my books. If you don’t believe me, watch Pennsylvania Outdoor Life tonight at 6:30 and see the smiles on the kid’s faces as they show off their antlerless trophies. It is important to remember that a mentored youth may only receive one antlerless deer license each license year. The antlerless deer license transferred to the mentored youth must be for the Wildlife Management Unit in which the adult mentor and youth are hunting.

The antlerless change is in addition to the buck season for youngsters already in place. For antlered deer, the mentored youth must use legal sporting arms for that season. For example, a bow or crossbow must be used during archery antlered deer season. Also, those youths participating in the Mentored Youth Hunting Program (MYHP) are required to follow the same antler restrictions as a junior license holder, which is one antler of three or more inches in length or one antler with at least two points.

The other regulations require that the youth to adult ratio be one-to-one, and that the pair possesses only one sporting arm when hunting. While moving, the sporting arm must be carried by the mentor. When the pair reaches a stationary hunting location, the mentor may turn over possession of the sporting arm to the youth and must keep the youth within arm’s length at all times.

The program also requires that both the mentor and the youth must abide by any fluorescent orange regulations, and that the mentored youth must tag and report any deer or spring gobbler taken. As part of the MYHP permit (which you can get online) every hunter will be provided the necessary harvest tags for antlered deer and spring gobbler, but must use the adult mentors antlerless deer harvest tag.

I do believe that the push to get youngsters involved in the hunting and fishing sports is not only a healthy idea for the formation of family values and sportsmanship, it is necessary to keep our outdoor heritage alive in Pennsylvania. Get involved if you can and invest in the future of outdoor sports. I think it’s worth the time.

White Nose Syndrome update

I promised to keep you up to date on the loss of bats in Pennsylvania due to white nose syndrome. While the cure is still far away, a team of scientists including Bucknell biology professor Dee Ann Reeder has identified the deadly fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats. This discovery is very important in the effort to prevent extinction of the nocturnal creatures in eastern North America.

Researchers have proven that Geomyces destructans, the tell-tale white fungus found on sick bats, led to white-nose syndrome in otherwise healthy hibernating bats. This was proven on both those bats artificially infected with the fungus and those that shared a hibernation space with bats that contracted the condition naturally. The big question now is, what can be done to prevent the spread and possible extinction of certain cave dwelling bats.

In Pennsylvania, bats spend six months out of the year in hibernation, living off their stored food supply. Most of this supply is from consuming massive quantities of flying insects. White nose syndrome, now called Gd (Geomyces destructans) irritates the deep-sleeping bats, forcing them out of their hibernation stupor, which requires increased energy consumption from a reserve that barely sustains them through winter. Most of them often die, regardless of whether the bat stays put or flies out into the harsh winter weather looking for food that isn’t there. Although some hibernacula have been scorched by Gd and remain absent of all bat life, there have been some bats that have survived at some contaminated caves and mines in Pennsylvania and New York for several years. This fact gives researchers hope for a potential sign of resistance.

It is still too early to tell what can be done to save the bats, but now that they know the cause, they can look for a cure. I have faith in the brilliant minds behinds this research. I will keep you posted.

Be sure to watch Pennsylvania Outdoor Life tonight at 6:30 on WNEP-TV. We’ll take you to Schuylkill County on rabbit hunt. Join us as we tag along with Northern Tier Outfitters and their four beagles. We will also have an edition of Pennsylvania People and Places with successful mentored doe hunters. Have a great day!

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