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Game Commission Rule Changes

Except for spring turkey hunting most of us outdoor types are thinking fishing and not hunting. However, there are some significant rule changes that are sure to get your attention. I suspect that most hunters probably already know that the Pennsylvania Game Commission recently voted to move the opening day of the statewide firearms deer season to the Saturday following Thanksgiving. This is the first time since 1963 that the season would open other than the Monday following Thanksgiving.

If you haven’t been following this issue, I can assure you that this decision didn’t come without considerable debate and you can bet there will be more to come. One PGC board member, Jim Daley of Butler, even resigned his position — no doubt because he couldn’t convince the other members to keep the Monday opener.

The debate rages on with the commission apparently of the opinion that the Saturday opener might bring more hunters into the deer hunting ranks and especially younger people who were unable to hunt the first Monday. It’s no secret that hunter numbers have been decreasing in Pennsylvania, but the same is true nationwide.

Older hunters are dropping from the hunting ranks, and younger just aren’t interested or don’t have the time. It also appears that those who own hunting camps are not especially happy with the change either. I don’t participate in camp hunting situations, but apparently, the change will interrupt the normal socializing and pre-hunting activities; now when they arrive at camp Friday night after work, they will have to be up and at it early the next morning.

Apparently, a number of different surveys were conducted to see what most hunters wanted; hunters selected at random preferred keeping the Monday opener. Of course, not everybody was opposed to the change; many feel that the Saturday opener will make it possible for more to participate on opening day — that, of course, remains to be seen. When I ponder this potential increase in opening day hunters; however this brings some other questions to mind. Will schools continue to offer Monday off now that the first day is Saturday? Will this change actually add to the deer hunters ranks? I guess we will just have to wait and see. In the meantime, some other rule changes have also raised some eyebrows.

The PGC has also opted to change some fluorescent orange rules; again some are happy with the changes, and some don’t think the changes are a good idea. The commission intends to simplify our somewhat complex requirements. One significant change is that archery deer hunters will no longer be required to wear any orange at all when their seasons overlap with firearms deer seasons and that includes the October muzzleloader and junior and senior rifle seasons. Archery bear hunters and archery elk hunters are also exempt. Archers are not required to post orange around their stand unless they are hunting from a ground blind.

Another possibly more controversial orange rule change is the new ruling that says fall turkey hunters are no longer required to wear orange. Bear in mind that doesn’t mean that you can’t wear orange if you want to and to be honest I think I will continue to wear orange when hunting fall turkeys. Keep in mind — you are sitting there making noises like a turkey, and you are in camo, and there are people who will shoot at that “moving turkey” without making a positive identification. I know of several people who have been shot be being mistaken for turkeys in the fall.

Again, we will see where all this goes; hopefully, there will not be an increase in hunting accidents. In the meantime hunt safely.

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