Four dozen youngsters will be treated to a high-flying hunting experience many of their parents never had. To hunt pheasants. In Pennsylvania.

Applications are due Aug. 11 for a special youth pheasant hunt in the Northumberland, Montour and Columbia counties region known as the Central Susquehanna Wild Pheasant Recovery Area.

Youth hunters will be assigned to hunt either Nov. 4 or Nov. 11, and each hunter will be assigned a “hunt mentor” to ensure safety and guide them. The Pennsylvania Game Commission encourages each youth hunter to be accompanied by an adult parent or guardian so the experience can be shared.

After the hunt, young hunters and guests can enjoy a free luncheon provided by Pheasants Forever.

The limited-draw hunt will be the first time since the WPRA program began that wild birds will be able to be hunted in the recovery areas.

Agricultural practices, land development and reforestation led to a decline of wild pheasants throughout the state, and by the end of the 20th century, it was unknown if viable wild populations still existed.

On more than one Christmas Bird Count that I participated in, more bald eagles were sighted than ringneck pheasants.

The WPRA program looked to identify four potential habitat areas of at least 10,000 acres where wild pheasants from western states could be stocked once suitable habitat was developed. The PAGC says the primary goal of the program was to restore habitat suitable to pheasants and other farmland wildlife to support self-sustaining and huntable ring-necked pheasant populations.

Of the four WPRAs, the Central Susquehanna WPRA saw the most significant wild pheasant population increase since the initial release of 992 wild-trapped birds from South Dakota and Montana.

For this special hunt, 48 permits will be issued to licensed junior hunters between the ages of 12 and 16. Successful applicants will be notified following an Aug. 18 random drawing.

Applications can be found at the Commission website, www.pgc.pa.gov, and then by searching Junior Pheasant Hunt. Apps can be filled out online and printed, or the blank application can be printed and filled in by hand. Applications must be mailed to: Pennsylvania Game Commission, Bureau of Wildlife Management, ATTN: Youth Wild Pheasant Hunt Application, 2001 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797.

Mutts remembered

In honor of National Mutt Day on July 24, pull your gnarly-coated, kayak riding, mountain hiking buddy up close and let him (or her) feel the love.

National Mixed Breed Dog Day was created in 2005 by animal welfare advocate Colleen Paige to remind us to embrace, save and celebrate mixed breed dogs. It will be repeated on Dec. 2.

Going wild in York

The York County SPCA is taking wild animals under its wing. But don’t plan on adopting them any time soon.

The shelter in Emigsville will be a halfway house between those who find injured animals and care by state-certified wildlife rehabilitators, a dwindling field. If the wild animal needs veterinarian care, one of the shelter’s four vets will see to it.

The shelter said its staff and volunteers will take public phone calls and questions, and get wild animals in need of medical care to available rehab.

The wild animals will not be on display and SPCA staff will not retrieve wildlife from the field.

Classes coming up

For youngsters hoping to get a license and hunt for the first time this year, there is still time to take the required Hunter-Trapper Education Course.

Students must be at least 11 years old on the day of the course.

Registration can be done at the game commission website, under the Education tab.

Dates and nearby sites for the course follow:

Carlisle Fish and Game, Aug. 12, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

PA State Hunter’s Association, 246 Meadow Grove Road, Newport, Aug. 12, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

York City Parks, Nixon Park, Aug. 17 from 6-9:30 p.m., and Saturday, Aug. 19, 8 a.m. to noon.

Mt. Holly Springs Fish & Game, Gardners, Aug. 19, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Northern York County Fish & Game, 40 Bremer Road, York, Aug. 19, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

PA Game Commission Headquarters, Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, Aug. 19, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Dillsburg American Legion, Monday, Aug. 21, 6-9:30 p.m., and Tuesday, Aug. 22, 6-9:30 p.m.

Turkey tally

The PAGC is hoping the public can help again with a survey of wild turkeys this month, so it can better gauge production.

The public is asked to report any turkeys they might see (neighbors do not count) during the month of August. Participants should record the number of turkeys they see, as well as the general location, date and contact information, should commission biologists have questions.

Reports can be filed by visiting the commission’s homepage and clicking on “August Turkey Sighting Survey” in the Quick Clicks section. The mobile apps survey can be found by searching for “Pennsylvania Game Commission” in the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store.

“The turkey survey enhances our agency’s internal survey, which serves as a long-term index of turkey reproduction,” said Mary Jo Casalena, the commission’s wild turkey biologist. “By reporting all turkeys seen during each sighting, whether it’s gobblers, hens with broods or hens without broods, the data help us determine total productivity and allow us to compare long-term reproductive success.”

Tweet of the week

“Tito, the 77-pound tortoise back with NY family after wandering away.” – Associated Press (Really? How far could he have gone?)

Contact B.J. Small at bjsmall@comcast.net. Follow on Twitter @Arrows2010

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