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South Williamsport, PA
United States

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Some Changes to the Coming Hunting Seasons

When it comes to what’s new with hunting this coming year, there are several changes of significance. Of course, the change from a Monday deer opener to a Saturday opener got a lot of attention as well as the usual controversy and some pretty strong opinions on both sides of the issue. Just how this

When it comes to what’s new with hunting this coming year, there are several changes of significance.

Of course, the change from a Monday deer opener to a Saturday opener got a lot of attention as well as the usual controversy and some pretty strong opinions on both sides of the issue. Just how this change will affect the number of deer taken, and whether or not more hunters will actually participate in deer hunting remains to be seen.

Another issue that has often generated its share of controversy involves our rather complicated fluorescent orange rules. Hunters have been complaining for some time and asking for a more simplified version of fluorescent orange rules, and some changes have finally come.

Archery deer hunters, for example, will no longer be required to wear or post orange during overlaps with fall turkey or deer firearms seasons. In the past 250 square inches of orange had to be worn on the head, back and chest combined while moving and 100 square inches had to be posted within 15 feet of a stationary location.

Even when orange isn’t required, the Game Commission highly recommends the use of orange. For example, when turkey hunting an orange hat is recommended at least while moving. Personally, even though the orange is no longer required for archery hunters, I plan to use an orange hat at least when moving and for good reason — I know several people who were shot in turkey season and I don’t want to become a part of that group.

Another interesting change is coming to the bear seasons. This year there will be a statewide muzzleloader season from Oct. 19-26; in the past, the muzzleloader season was limited to WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C, and 5D.

In addition, a special firearms season will run from Oct. 24-26, the last three days of the statewide muzzleloader season. In the special firearms season junior and senior license holders, active-duty military and certain disabled persons’ permit holders may hunt bears with firearms if they have their bear licenses.

These special provisions for bear hunting were added in part to avoid further increases in the state’s bear population which presently stands at about 20,000. According to the state’s bear biologist, Mark Ternent, we can justify taking additional bear numbers thus the statewide muzzleloader season. Up until recently, all bear harvests were in November during the colder periods so it will be interesting to see how harvest numbers may change due to hunting them in the warmer days of October.

By the way, if you do take a bear during that earlier October season, it would be wise to get it field-dressed as quickly as possible and get it out of the woods quickly and into a cooler. That means you may need some help so you may want to line up some potential helpers prior to your hunt if you don’t hunt with a group.

It will be interesting to see if and how these changes may affect the number of people hunting on any given day or season and I am anxious to see how the changes might affect the number of deer or bear taken under the new regulations.

In the meantime, I hope to be able to add to the harvest numbers in the deer category.

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