The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 5, 2013

Don Steese's Outdoors Perspective column: Changes could draw hunters' ire

Daily Item

---- — Tradition is something Pennsylvania hunters take very seriously, especially Pennsylvania deer hunters. Resistance to change is the main reason that a lot of deer hunters were seemingly more incensed by the two week concurrent antlered/antlerless seasons that we had for a while than they were about wildly increased antlerless license allocations.

I heard a lot more negative comments about the season length than I did about the increased allotments, even though increased numbers of doe tags account for a lot more dead deer. Resistance to change was also the reason for all the negative comments you'll hear about antler restrictions, even though they make good management sense and do, I believe, result in larger bucks available for harvest.

I also remember some gnashing of teeth when the Commission announced the Saturday bear opener. Keystone State hunters don't like people messing with their traditions. So, with that in mind, let's talk a bit about some of the proposals that were floated around at the recent Game Commission work session.

If Wildlife Management Bureau chief Cal Dubrock gets his way we're going to see a return to the two-week concurrent season in all of our Wildlife Management Units. Apparently the agency's "goals" aren't being met in the areas where a seven-day season has been the rule during the past few years. According to DuBrock, the two-week concurrent season is very popular with younger hunters and only hunters in their 60s and older are opposed. Don't know how true that is, but that's what he thinks.

Speaking of stomping on tradition, one commissioner, Dave Putnam, is thinking it's time to start talking about ditching the traditional Monday-after-Thanksgiving opener for firearms deer season and instead open the deer season on a Saturday, just as we now do for bear. He isn't going as far as to say that we should do it, but he does think it's something that we may need to discuss.

That's one that isn't going to go down very well with a lot of hunters, especially older ones. But, on the other hand, we did get used to the Saturday opener for bear, so maybe the hue and cry wouldn't be as loud as I've envisioned. Only time will tell if an official proposal on the issue is ever made and, if it is, what the reaction will be. The commissioners asked DuBrock to investigate what the ramifications of a Saturday opener would be, and report back to them on his findings.

Also at the work session, held last month, commissioner Ralph Martone asked commission staffers to investigate whether we could add another week to the archery season without hurting the deer herd. I know a lot of firearms hunters who already think the archery guys have too much time to pursue our whitetails. One guy I know made the comment that the commission gives archery hunters "everything but a free license." I'm not sure I agree, but I'm sure that another week for the archers would not go over very well with firearms-only hunters who think archery hunters are getting plenty already.

I know that all these ideas were merely raised in a work session and may never see the light of day but, if they ever do, I'll be interested to see the reaction of Pennsylvania's deer hunters.

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