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Kids are the future of the Outdoors

OUTDOORS WITH JAKE

There’s no doubt that our strong heritage and tradition of hunting and fishing is still alive in our area. It is however easy to see how modern day life styles have changed things a bit, actually quite a bit. We used to wait for the weekend to go hunting and fishing. The thought of a day on the river or in the field with my father and grandfather would keep me up at night during the week. When Saturday finally arrived I was up before the alarm clock and waiting for the outdoor adventure to begin.

We didn’t have to talk about it. Saturdays were meant for outdoor recreation and that was that. Many adults in the valley worked hard through the week and found piece of mind on the weekend by jumping in a boat for a fishing trip or grabbing their shotguns or rifles for a hunt. I do remember missing a few days of hunting because of football but it didn’t keep me from looking forward to the next adventure. I know that times have changed and there are many new challenges and opportunities facing today’s families. I just beg you to not forget your roots and try to make the hunting and fishing sports a part of your life. Most of it starts at home with children.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the Pennsylvania Game Commission are working hard to entice new sportsmen and promote hunting and fishing to today’s youth. The Fish and Boat Commission is working hard at recruiting new anglers. They have a program called Fish-for-Free Days and the response has been overwhelming. They are continuing the Labor Day and Memorial day Fish-for Free Days and they have expanded the outreach to regionalized Family Fishing Festival days.

There are Family Fishing Festivals scheduled at six locations across the state on Labor Day Weekend and one of them will take place right here in our backyard. On Saturday, September 3, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will host a Family Fishing Festival at Frances Slocum State Park. The Commission says the Family Fishing Festivals are free educational events designed for families with little or no fishing experience; Participating families will learn basic fishing skills and have an opportunity to practice those skills while fishing together during the program. The festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Frances Slocum. The usual fishing license requirement is waived for registered festival participants 16 and older. The program is open to all ages. However, it is designed for children ages 5 and older. All equipment, bait and tackle will be provided.

Space is limited at the event, so pre-registration is required. Deadline for registration is Aug. 31, and there will be no registration taken the day of the event. You can register online at www.fishandboat.com/fishforfree.htm or you can contact the Northeast Office of the Fish Commission in Sweet Valley by calling 570-477-2206. This is an amazing opportunity to get family and children involved in fishing. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of it. The Commission also has another Fish-for Free Day the same weekend. On Labor Day, Monday Sept. 5, it’s the Commission’s second Fish-for-Free Day for 2011. This day allows anyone (resident or non-resident) to legally fish with no fishing license required on all Pennsylvania’s waterways on this day. All other fishing regulations still apply.

Early hunting seasons

The early goose and dove seasons open on Thursday, September 1. Dove hunters will have the opportunity to participate in a triple-split season. During the first season, Sept. 1-Oct. 1, hunting will start at noon and close at sunset daily. The second and third splits will be Oct. 29-Nov. 26, and Dec. 26-Jan 4, with hunting hours a half-hour before sunrise until sunset. In all three seasons, the daily bag limit will be 15, and the possession limit will be 30.

The early statewide season for resident Canada geese will open Sept. 1, and continue through Sept. 24. The early season daily bag limit is 8 Canada geese and possession limit of 16.The Game Commission is trying to manage the resident goose population through this early season and liberal bag limits. They believe that goose hunting opportunities, along with control programs being implemented by many municipalities and public and private landowners, appear to be stabilizing the growth of the state’s resident Canada goose population. Hunting is considered a major management tool.

The push to get our youth involved in hunting is a major concern to many of us and the commission is trying to open every path they can. For example, young Pennsylvania hunters will be provided with an extra day of waterfowl hunting on Saturday, Sept. 17 and 24. The Youth Waterfowl Days, which previously were limited to one day, are open to those 12- to 15-years-old who hold a junior hunting license. To participate, a youngster must be accompanied by an adult, who may assist the youth in calling, duck identification and other aspects of the hunt. During these special two day-long hunts, youth can harvest ducks, mergansers, coots and moorhens. In addition, because the Youth Waterfowl Days and the early Canada goose season overlap this year, youth and the adults accompanying them may harvest Canada geese.

Remember that every migratory game bird hunter, including doves and woodcock hunters, are required to obtain and carry a Pennsylvania migratory game bird license ($3.70 for residents, $6.70 for non-residents), as well as a general hunting, combination or lifetime license. All waterfowl hunters age 16 and older also must possess a federal migratory game bird and conservation (duck) stamp.

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