Youth Hunting Day Sept. 19
Inside the Outdoors, September 04, 2009

Many things went through my mind when I read that youth hunting day was scheduled to take place statewide, Sept. 19. I’d be writing about something that is occurring during the middle of the month already. Wow, is time flying by. I have a faint recollection of summer. Also, many hunting seasons will begin next month. That means, at least for me, get out the orange garments if I am going to continue to fish on the Loyalhanna Creek.

Anyway, getting back to Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day, it will be open to licensed junior hunters, ages 12-15 when properly accompanied by an adult.

Now, I learned when these young adults will be gunning for are birds unknown to me. Anybody who knows me can tell you, I know my fish, fishing and three favorite water basins, Loyalhanna Creek, Keystone State Park Lake, and the Conemaugh River. But when it comes to fowl species that are hunted besides the all-too famous Canadian geese, you may have me stumped. So, I had to do a little investigation, which I believe will work two-fold – one to educate the young hunter, and second, me.

One of the birds that will in the sights of these youth are coots. I always heard of a coot as being a rather questionable character that lived in the hills of various states. Here we have a different species, to say the least. A coot is a medium-sized water bird predominately with black plumage. It has prominent shields or decorations on the foreheads and bills sometimes white in color. It is a weak flier. However, it can scoot about quickly, for it can walk and run vigorously with the use of its strong legs.

Another bird that may appear in their scopes will be the common merganser. Here we have a large diving bird with a long, thin orange bill, characterized by white patches on its wings while in flight. Males have bright white sides with an iridescent green head. One may want to Google this bird, for detailing of this species is quite intricate.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn from the Pennsylvania Game Commission that both birds are found around here. I’ll be setting my sights on game on the water instead of just underneath it to see if I can spot them.

The next bird that youth may hunt on this one-day outing is the moorhen. It is a close relative of coots. It is mostly brown and black with some white markings in the plumage color. Its legs are yellow with a red bills and foreheads.

I don’t think I have to describe the Canadian goose to anyone around here. Most people turn up their upper lip when the bird is mentioned. Too bad, because it has always been one of my favorites to watch. I will admit they are messy; I’ll make no bones about that. They may also be hunted on this statewide adventure for youth.

Ducks can also be taken. Those include mallards, black, pintail, motled, fulvous tree, wood, redheads, canvasback, scoters and scaup ducks. That sure gives one a fighting chance to get something!

Now, pertaining to bag limits.

Pertaining to duck bag limits: except for including 2 hen mallards; 1 back duck; 1pintail; 1 mottled duck; 1 fulvous tree duck; 3 wood ducks; 2 redheads; 1 canvasback; 4 scoters; and 2 scaup. Possession limit may not include more than eight mallads, including 4 hens; 2 black ducks; 2 pintails; 2 mottled ducks; 2 fulvous tree ducks; 6 wood ducks; 4 redheads; 2 canvasback; 8 scoters; and 4 scaup.

Five mergansers may be harvested – not more than 2 hooded mergansers.

Youth ought to have quite a meal if they bring home the limit on coots. One is allowed to take 15. That sounds like quite a deal, at least for the hunter.

On the other hand, 3 moorhens are only allowed to be taken.

And last, youth may kill 5 geese on their excursion to the great outdoors.

As you know, there is always an exception to most things. So, it is very important to point out that two controlled hunting days for youth will be held at Middle Creek, Nov. 21, and Pyumatuning, Nov. 28. Also, no Canadian goose hunting will be permitted on Middle Creek, State Game Lands 46, and 214. End of youth discussion.

In case you are itching to get out and do some hunting, there are some species in season that may be hunted. They are: doves, now until Sept. 26, daily limit 15; Sora and Virginia rails only, now until Nov. 9, daily limit, 3; and Moorhens and Gallinules, now to Nov. 9 as well, with a daily limit of also 3.

During this first part of dove season, hunting hours are noon to sunset.

There is no closed season for groundhogs except during the regular firearms deer seasons and until noon daily during the spring turkey season. Hunting on Sundays is prohibited

One last note – According to the PGC, one must hunt 150 yards away from buildings unless one receives permission from a building owner. Then he may stand as close to it or on it, as the case may be.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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