No deer hunting for children under 9 if PA Game Commission proposal passes

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Outdoors enthusiasts in Central Pennsylvania may soon be required to leave their young children at home when they’re hunting for deer or turkeys. The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s board is expected to vote on a pair of proposals that could change the future of the sport in the Commonwealth.

The Commission is voting on two proposals. The first deals with the Mentored Youth Hunt Program. In 2006, any child 11 years old or younger could harvest game. Under the proposal, the board would limit the age for a child to hunt deer and turkeys to nine years and older. The proposal would allow kids under nine to only hunt squirrel, woodchuck and coyote. A spokesman for the commission says a reason for establishing the minimum age is suspicion that mentors may be taking the younger-aged children out to fill another tag.

Travis Lau is a spokesman for the PA Game Commission. He says, "Wildlife protection and enforcement of our game laws and ensuring that hunters don't take over the bag limit and that all hunters are licensed to hunt is essential to what we do."

The second proposal on the agenda is for a non-hunter or trapper usage permit for state game lands. Without a permit, you wouldn't be allowed to hike, cycle, snowmobile or horseback ride during hunting seasons in the spring, fall and winter. You would also be limited to the designated trails on Sundays. The Commission will meet Sunday through Tuesday at the main headquarters on Elmerton Avenue, in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County. Doors open at noon on Sunday ahead of the 1:00 p.m. meeting. The meeting will consist of public comment and a number of people who are against the proposals are expected to attend.


  • OneMan'sOpinion

    People who do ill deeds can ruin things for others. However, with so many immature children, I question why anyone who has not reached 9th grade should handle firearms. They have to master their video games first. Hell, they aren’t even deemed mature enough to cross streets safely to walk to school or a bus stop or be able to stay away from strangers while doing so.

    • Jason

      Not all kids are in to video games my stepdaughter is in 5th grade and knows how to handle a bow and a gun and does it very safe in the mentor program parent is in full control of firearm till the target has been identified then the child takes over with very close supervision by the adult my stepdaughter picked the stand she wanted to hunt made a mock scrape 20 yards from the stand she picked to hunt and called im her own buck with a grunt call when we both new this was the buck she wanted to shoot the crossbow was taken off bow hanger and put in her hands she then waited till buck came to the scrape she made and put the arrow right behind the sholder deer droped 40 yards from were she shot him my stepdaughter knows how to handle a firearm with great care and was shown at a young age that they are not toys i feel if a parent knows there child is responsible and willing to take there child hunting they should beable to

  • Nikki

    I agree but i think the law should be 13 years or older a gun is nothing to play with and little kids should have no part in using a gun under the age of 13.

  • pappy

    My grandson has went hunting with me since he was 3 yrs. old, he carried a toy gun an I taught him ” safety ” this past season he got his first buck and also got his first gobbler
    . He is so pumped on hunting. Yes he is 5 yrs. old and very safety minded. To tell him he can’t hunt for the next 3 years would tare his heartout.

  • norman kearns jr

    I agree with commision gun safety is a responsibility of the indiviual handling the weapon. A 6 year old under no circumstances is capable of this responsibility. I have been around 13 year olds that did not have what it takes to handle a firearm safely.under 9 should be playing with soft air guns and video games.let the minds develop first

  • Mentor Dad

    This won’t affect me now because my kids are 10. The mentor program is an outstanding program to bring new hunters into the fold. To exclude those youngsters when they still may have a desire to try hunting and before they get involved in the many other activities available to our youth today may be one of the nails in the coffin of the future of hunting. To let the misdeeds of a few impact the freedom of many is what has our society at the point it is with regards to restricting people’s rights. Punish the guilty NOT the innocent.

    • Mentor Dad

      A person’s age has little to do with handling firearms. It has everything to do with their training. I trusted my kid’s gun handling skills at 5 and 6 more than I trust the gun handling skills of some adults I know.

      If someone wants to poach deer they are going to poach deer – rules didn’t stop them before and changing the rules isn’t going to stop them now.

  • bowhunter

    I remember when I was 4 years old hunting with my father as our for father’s did with there children and as I’ve done with my children and I was planning to due so with my grandson but thanks to some close minded folks this may not be the case for the next 5 years thanks for ruining family traditions and taking away a positive from our youths

  • Jae

    Typically not one to comment, but this news is disappointing. I have spent the past two years pushing deer to friends & family that had young ones along for mentored hunts. While after most hunts there was no meat for the freezer, every hunt was full of lessons. I have seen fathers & sons bonding. I have seen fathers capitalize on every teaching moment & youngsters learn a love for the woods & the hunt. These are most certainly moments that both generations will cherish for the rest of their lives. With a few years to wait until my son will join me on a mentored hunt, I truly hope that we have the privilege to do so.

  • Max

    Tons of poaching and abuse of the program going. More adults are killing deer with kids tags than kids are. Kids who are not even potty trained can legally hunt a buck? ha haha. No, nothing wrong with that craziness. 12 yr old was ideal.

  • Mike1

    The Mentored Youth Program in PA is outstanding. Most states don’t put the effort into such a program. Not establishing a minimum age from the start was undoubtedly a mistake. Now, everyone just expects the status quo to continue. We all know adults were abusing the program and harvesting deer with their kids’ tags. Those who did this are sh** bags anyway. Parents who don’t believe an age should be attached to using a firearm are simply unrealistic. SAFETY should be paramount and placed before the gratification of killing a deer or turkey. These are little kids with GUNS. I can still remember the anticipation of my 12th birthday so that I could finally hunt but I wouldn’t trade safety for an early start. I think 9 is soon enough for a youngster to use a rifle. If you continue to read the rest of the proposal you will see that they are not eliminating hunting for those under 9 they are just limiting it. Don’t be greedy. Stop complaining and take your child squirrel hunting!

Comments are closed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.