Outdoor Opportunities By COL(Ret.) Grey D. Berrier II
I learned a long time ago that the best way to get the “straight scoop’ is to go right to the source. So, last Friday, Feb 22, I made it a point to attend PA Game Commissioner James Daley’s informative session, out at Sportsman’s Night Out. Commissioner Daley, who represents Region 1, is our PGC Board Member for Lawrence County and also 8 other counties here in Northwest PA. He has attended Sportsman’s Night Out for the past several years in order to interact directly with his constituents: PA hunters, and I greatly appreciate his accessibility and candor. As I expected, he addressed the subject of the proposed changes to the PA 2019-20 hunting seasons that the Board tentatively approved in Jan. and will vote on again in Apr. after reading written public input and listening to comments from attendees who address the Board.
It was interesting to hear Commissioner Daley frame the movement of opening day of firearms deer season to the Sat. after Thanksgiving as a hunter retention issue. He shared the fact that he has been a Hunter-Trapper Education Instructor for over 40-years and in spite of the fact that PA HTE Instructors recently trained their 1 millionth student, there has been a slow, steady decline in total PA hunting licenses purchased over the past two decades. PGC analytical research has found that the biggest drop-off in hunter participation occurs when young men and women reach 18-25 years of age, corresponding with when high school graduates either attend college or enter the work force. Further inquiry revealed that while a significant majority of PA school districts give students the Mon. after Thanksgiving off, almost all colleges, universities, and technical schools are in session that day. Additionally, those who enter the work force in the 18-25 age bracket are typically “the low man or woman on the totem pole” and are frequently unable to take vacation on opening day since older workers with more seniority schedule that day off. Commissioner Daley said the PGC truly believes moving opening day to the Sat. after Thanksgiving will help retain more 18 to 25 year old hunters and aid in perpetuating hunting for future generations. This is an interesting perspective I had not considered, and whether you are for or against the change, you have until Apr. 7 to submit your written “two-cents” to the PGC.
By default, if the Sat. after Thanksgiving is given final approval in Apr. as the opening day of our PA fi rearms deer season, it will mean one less day for Fall turkey hunting, since our Fall turkey season here in WMU 1A would consist of one week (Nov. 2-9) and then two additional days (Nov. 28 & 29), which are Thanksgiving Day and then “Black Friday”. What may be the most welcomed change (at least by those fortunate enough to be drawn in the annual PA elk lottery) is the creation of the first-ever PA elk archery season, which will run two weeks from Sep. 14-28, 2019. What a privilege it will be for those who get drawn to pursue a majestic PA elk with their bow or crossbow. Other tentatively approved changes primarily involve fur takers, since bobcat hunting/trapping will be expanded to WMU 4B, fisher trapping will be open for the first time in WMU 4A, and the season limit on beavers will be increased from 20 to 40 in WMUs 2A and 2B. Another change that might “slip under the radar” is porcupine hunting season will be reduced by ten weeks, running from Oct. 12, 2019 until Feb. 1, 2020. This season was created several years ago to address nuisance porcupines causing property damage and will retain its daily limit of 3 and season limit of 10. (The current season is Sep. 1, 2018 – Mar. 30, 2019).
Next week, we will address tentatively approved PGC regulation changes, such as fluorescent orange requirements and mentored hunting. Today, marks 6-years since Outdoor Opportunities first appeared in the Weekly Bargain Bulletin on March 1, 2013. Now after over 300 weekly columns, I want to sincerely thank the Hutchison Family and all our readers for the blessing of sharing the outdoors here with you each week! God Bless, Be Safe, and Great Outdoors! ©WBB 2019