Outdoors Notebook: Mentored hunting for adults advances in Pennsylvania Legislature

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The Youth Mentored Hunting program introduced in Pennsylvania in 2006 has been so safe and successful, the state General Assembly is considering a mentored hunting initiative for adults.

Last week the state Senate unanimously supported a bill that would permit the Pennsylvania Game Commission to launch an Adult Mentored Hunting program.

The current legislation is similar to a bill introduced for the past four years by state Sen. Wayne D. Fontana, D-Allegheny. Structured like the youth program, it would enable the Game Commission to waive the license fee for an adult hunting under proscribed circumstances while accompanied by a licensed adult hunter.

"A mentored hunting program can encourage more adults to give hunting a try," Fontana said in a written statement. "By providing more of an incentive for people to get out there in the field to see if they like the sport, the program could spur greater interest in hunting."

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that from 2006 to 2011, the number of licensed hunters in Pennsylvania dropped from 945,892 to 933,208.

Fontana, former Democratic chairman of the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee, said he will continue to support initiatives that encourage more people to enjoy hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. Having passed in the Senate, the legislation will move to the state House.

Hatcheries to remain open

The state's Oswayo and Bellefonte trout hatcheries will not be shuttered next year. Reversing a decision that would have cost Pennsylvania anglers 785,000 brook, brown, rainbow and golden rainbow trout annually, while saving the Fish and Boat Commission $2 million per year starting in 2014, the agency announced Friday the hatcheries will remain operational for at least two years while a long-term funding source is sought through the General Assembly.

"We're thankful that the General Assembly has recognized the fiscal situation we're in and have expressed their willingness to help us reach a solution," said Fish and Boat executive director John Arway, in a written statement. "However, it doesn't eliminate the fact that we must still find $9 million in annual savings or revenue over the next four years."

Turkey class

The Game Commission will host a Successful Turkey Hunting course 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at South Connellsville Rod and Gun Club, South Connellsville. Details and $15 registration at www.pgc.state.pa.us.

Fly casting

The finer points of casting flies will be explained at a free demonstration from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Tackle Unlimited, Route 51, Jefferson Hills. 412-384-4500, info@tackleunlimited.com.

Fly fishing workshops

Expert fly tiers Joe Humphreys, Bob Clouser, Bob Clouser Jr., Eric Stroup, Scott Loughner, Randy Buchanan, Chuck Furimsky and others will attend the annual Fly Tyers Roundtable 6:30-9:30 p.m. Thursday at Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Champion. Fish and Boat Commissioner Len Lichvar of Somerset County will discuss fish management policies and local water quality concerns. Details: 800-452-2223, ext. 7899, fishing@7springs.com.

Photos, stockings, fishing reports

Post your fish, wildlife and deer harvest photos at the Post-Gazette's website. Find the outdoors folders at http://post-gazette.mycapture.com/mycapture/photos.

Check southwestern Pennsylvania trout stocking schedules listed by county Tuesdays-Fridays in Sports through April 2. Check out the weekly regional fishing outlook Fridays in Sports, always at www.post-gazette.com/sports/outdoors.

huntingfishing


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