Big Changes Proposed for Upcoming PA 2019-20 Hunting Seasons (Part 3 of 3)

Outdoor Opportunities By COL(Ret.) Grey D. Berrier II

If I had to guess, you’ve probably watched television within the past year and seen the comical Progressive Insurance commercials where young adults are “becoming their parents”. Well, I have to admit that over the years, I’ve been guilty of having some of the same life talks with my children that my dad had with me decades earlier. One principle we discussed is “ignorantia juris non excusat”, which is the Latin terminology for “ignorance of the law is no excuse”. If you’re not familiar with this concept, it is the legal principle holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because one was unaware of its content. While the subject typically came up in my conversations with our children while they were learning to drive, it is applicable to most aspects of life, including hunting regulations.

One of the biggest proposed regulation changes for the upcoming PA 2019-20 hunting seasons involves fluorescent orange requirements. In the past, if you were an archery hunter, you were required to know what other hunting seasons ran concurrently throughout the Fall regular archery season because fluorescent orange requirements constantly changed. How much orange you had to wear or display varied based on what else was in season and whether you were moving or stationary. The potential confusion arose because during the majority of the regular archery season there was no requirement to wear fluorescent orange. However, when regular archery season overlapped with the October deer season (muzzleloader and special antlerless firearms), archers had to wear a minimum of 250 sq. inches of orange on their head, chest, and back when moving, and that could be removed when stationary, but 100 sq. inches of orange (usually a tree band) had to be displayed within 15 feet of their tree or ground stand. Then, when regular archery season overlapped with Fall turkey season, archers had to wear a hat containing a minimum of 100 square inches of solid orange when moving, which could be removed when stationary or on stand. The changing fluorescent orange requirements could be confusing and many unaware archery hunters received either verbal warnings or written citations from PA State Game Wardens for fluorescent orange violations because “ignorance of the law is no excuse”.

To potentially simplify the fluorescent orange requirements, the PA Game Board gave tentative approval at their Jan. meeting to eliminate the requirements to wear fluorescent orange at any time while archery hunting for deer or bear. The proposal would also eliminate the requirement for Fall turkey hunters to wear fluorescent orange. Fluorescent orange requirements would remain the same as in the past for all other hunting seasons. The PGC will still recommend fluorescent orange for all seasons, whether required or not, as a safety measure. I personally will take it with me and put it on after harvesting a deer or turkey to be more visible to other hunters.

The other significant regulation change that received tentative board approval is a change in the mentored hunting program. In the past, we had a mentored youth hunting program for youngsters under the age of 12 and also a mentored adult hunting program for first-time hunters ages 18 and older. However, in the past, individuals from ages 12-17 were omitted from the mentored hunting program and their only past option was to attend a Hunter Trapper Education Course and purchase their own license. The new proposal will include 12-17 year olds in the mentored hunting program, so they can experience hunting for themselves and “try, before they buy” for up to three years. Youngsters 12-16 will fall under the mentored youth hunting program and individuals 17 years of age will be included in the mentored adult hunting program. These expanded mentored hunting options have real potential to expand future hunter recruitment.

The Game Commissioners seem to be listening to their constituents, hunters, and welcome your feedback on their tentatively approved proposals. God Bless, Be Safe, and Great Outdoors! ©WBB 2019

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