The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


March 29, 2014

Don Steese outdoors column: Outdoor infighting

— The old saw, “You can’t please all of the people all of the time,” certainly seems to apply to the Pennsylvania outdoors.

The ongoing PGC “deer wars” are — ongoing!

Some of the arguments on both sides seem to be based more on emotion rather than fact. One such argument is that our deer population problems could be solved if we’d simply go back to two weeks of buck season followed by a three day doe hunt.

This argument may sound good but when you stop to think about it, it would probably make little difference because the only way to reduce the number of antlerless deer we kill is to reduce the number of doe tags we issue, period!

“But,” you argue, “if hunters have more days to hunt them the success rate will be higher, therefore we’ll kill more does!”

Not so, if fewer tags are issued. People wanting to go back to the three day doe season are simply longing to go back to the “good old days” which many feel would be nice but it would likely not result in fewer does being killed.

One change that the PGC is considering making is changing the opening day of firearms season to the Saturday after Thanksgiving rather than the following Monday.

This proposal has ignited a firestorm among hunters who argue that the weekend before the actual opener is as much a part of the deer camp tradition as the actual hunt, and that changing the opener to Saturday would result in a lot of hunters giving up on deer hunting.

In this case I have to agree with the traditionalists!

In my opinion, this change would do more harm than good. I think it would result in fewer, rather than more, licenses being sold.

With trout season upon us, I guess it’s as good a time as any to point out the fact that the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission isn’t without it’s share of controversy.

Right now the controversy seems to center on the commission’s trout stocking program.

For years the prevailing wisdom was that stocking sold licenses, period. If you reduced the number of trout you stocked, you’d see a direct reduction in the number of licenses you sold.

Perhaps there’s a grain of truth there but it’s probably not as cut-and-dried as some would have us believe.

Right now our current group of commissioners would like to reclassify a number of streams as class A wild trout waters. Some of these streams have a history of receiving stocked fish. Some members of the Pennsylvania Legislature are highly upset by the proposal because they argue that that could pave the way for these waters to receive fewer or no stocked fish.

A few of those same Legislators recently make it clear that they don’t want to see the PFBC taken over by a bunch of Trout Unlimited members, which one described as a “fringe environmental group.”

I like to catch stocked trout as much as the next guy and I can see both sides of this argument, but that’s the kind of talk that’s probably not going to get any problems solved.

TU is a long established, highly regarded conservation organization, and certainly doesn’t deserve to be refered to in such a dirisive way.

I guess we’re at a point where we can expect such things of our elected officials, which is a really a shame!

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