Few memories stick with a boy for a lifetime.
Fortunately, one of my fondest hunting memories is still as clear as the crisp fall day it was engraved into my memory.
I was just 12 years old and it was the first time I ever took to the fields in search of pheasant.
When we arrived at my grandfather's farm in Hellam, I didn't need him to tell me the soybean fields we would be stalking had just been stocked with dozens of pheasants the day before. It was evident the instant I stepped out of the truck. The sunrise "cackle" of eager pheasants filled the air. It sounded like pheasant hunting should sound. The field was alive.
Within minutes of stepping into the field, we flushed our first bird and I had bagged my first pheasant. I was hooked and the memory was permanent.
The joy I felt that day when my generations-old .410 thumped my shoulder has been rivaled only a handful of precious times since.
Thanks to the efforts of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, many more young hunters are going to have the opportunity to make memories just like mine in the weeks and months ahead.
The Game Commission will soon release approximately 15,000 pheasants into the state's fields in anticipation of the annual Youth Pheasant Hunt that runs from Oct. 10 through Oct. 17. It's a chance for kids to join a mentor and get a first shot at Pennsylvania's prime pheasant hunting.
After the special week-long season designated just for the state's newest generation of hunters, the commission's stocking trucks will again take to the roads, this time with plans to release nearly 200,000 more birds.
In an effort to provide hunters the very best hunt possible, the commission plans to release a total of 111,000 male and 88,000 female pheasants onto the state's hunting lands. More than half of them will be waiting when the state's official pheasant season kicks off on Oct. 24. The rest will be stocked later in the season.
In the southeast region of the state, in which York County lies, approximately 35,000 pheasants will be released. That is a chance for 35,000 new memories to be born.
For young hunters who never had the opportunity to hunt pheasants when the beautiful birds were abundant all across the state, the commission is providing a phenomenal opportunity to get folks away from their television sets and into the woods and fields.
If you would like to take a youngster hunting on the special youth day, they must be between the ages of 12 and 16 and have successfully completed a hunter-trapper education course. Participants in the youth pheasant hunting season are not required to purchase a junior license.
If you take a kid pheasant hunting, not only will you be able to enjoy a beautiful fall day, but you'll also be able to stand back and watch as he or she creates memories that will last a lifetime.
— Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.