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New Hunting Regulations Coming

There are some new hunting regulations set to take place this year or next year that are of particular interest to those of us who hunt deer.

I’ve been following this first regulation for the past year or two, and it is now in play for Pennsylvania deer hunters starting with this fall’s archery season. Tracking dogs will now be legal to track and find deer that have been shot during one of our various deer seasons. Understand that the use of a tracking dog is only permissible for locating wounded animals and they cannot be used to locate big game that has not been shot. There are a number of other regulations that clarify the use of tracking dogs, one of which is that the tracking dog must be on a leash. Dogs are not permitted to roam freely throughout the woods, and rightly so, since other hunters may still be trying to score on a whitetail. It should also be pointed out that this new regulation allows tracking dogs for bear and even elk.

Another rule that governs the use of leashed dogs for tracking is that both the hunter who shot the animal and the person overseeing the tracking dog must be properly licensed big game hunters. Be aware that the new tracking dog ruling does not change existing regulations that state that a hunter may track with a sporting arm in possession, but you cannot do so after hunting hours, on Sundays, or after the season closes. Trackers do not have to register with the Game Commission nor do they have to be certified or licensed by the commission. Trackers may charge for their services (some may only ask for a donation to help offset any costs), but they cannot charge a fee if pursuing wounded game on state game lands. Also, those involved in the tracking effort must comply with fluorescent orange requirements.

Speaking of fluorescent orange requirements — there are changes likely coming for next year’s deer seasons. Most hunters would probably agree that Pennsylvania’s fluorescent orange requirements throughout the various deer seasons can be very complicated and confusing at times. Now there is a move to simplify those requirements so that it doesn’t matter where you are in the state or what season or what time of the year it is.

Hunters are required to wear 250 square inches of orange on the head, back and chest combined during the rifle deer, bear and elk seasons, and during all small game seasons. Also, woodchuck hunters are required to wear a fluorescent orange hat while hunting. Under the new regulations, there would be no additional orange requirements other than those just mentioned. For example, archery hunters would no longer be required to wear an orange hat while moving if a gun season is in during the archery season.

The changes will not be instituted until next year so that they are in effect for the beginning of the new season. The archery crowd will most notice the changes; some may opt not to wear any orange. Others may feel safer walking through the woods with an orange hat while moving with full camouflage to their treestand while fall turkey hunting or one of the special gun deer seasons is also underway.

The most important thing is that hunters must be very safety conscious; don’t shoot at a target until you have positively identified what it is and that’s going to be especially important with the upcoming changes.

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  • Doug Dyer
    October 26, 2018, 8:31 pm

    Dogs????? You have to be kidding me.Just another regulation that will be abused. Pretty soon they will allow armed drones and salt licks. This 50 yr hunter wish we went back to ONE deer in ONE year only!