The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 12, 2012

Don Steese's Outdoors column: So long, back tags!

By Don Steese
The Daily Item

---- — Starting tomorrow, Pennsylvania hunters will no longer have to display their hunting licenses on their backs.

The new PA hunting licenses are designed to be carried in your wallet, like they are in nearly every other state in the U.S. Slowly but surely Pennsylvania is joining everyone else in the 21st century! Can Sunday hunting be far behind? Considering the current mood of the Pennsylvania Legislature, the answer to that question may be yes. Some things take even longer than others, I guess.

The PGC reminds hunters not to absentmindedly leave their hunting license in their pocket and accidentally run it through the dryer. That will destroy the document. So will getting it near any heat source. They caution us against even placing our license on the dashboard of our vehicle. I’m sure I’ll remember not to do any of those things.

The PGC notes that only New York and Wisconsin still require hunters to display a back tag. I hunted Wisconsin this fall and didn’t remember having to display my license. As I thought about it, I couldn’t even remember having bought a license. I strained my feeble old brain thinking about where I might have stopped to pick up my license and couldn’t remember having done so.

For a while I wondered if I’d hunted illegally in that fine state. Finally the memories came flooding back from that long-ago adventure, which in actuality was only a few months ago, and I remembered that I’d bought my license online after I arrived at the hunting cabin. I’d gladly give up any senior discounts I might get at restaurants, motels or movie theatres just to have a memory that functions once in a while.

It’s gotten so bad that I finally bought one of those self-help memory books that’s supposed to help you bolster your memory power — unfortunately I put it down somewhere and can’t remember where I put it!

Another thing we Pennsylvanians can now do, that most everyone else has been able to do for a long time, is buy our hunting licenses online. That’s a very convenient service for hunters and anything that makes hunting an easier sport to get into is probably a good thing, however I’m sure there are some licensing agents who were not too happy about the change.

Agents don’t make much money selling licenses, but it got some folks into their store where they might sell them some ammo, clothing or even if they’re real lucky that day, a new deer rifle.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission also allows potential anglers to buy their fishing licenses online. Just go to the PFBC website and look for the “outdoor shop.” In both cases you can pay for your license with a credit card, print it from your computer, and be ready to go. Ah, convenience!

The extremely mild winter we’re having is probably making a lot of people happy. The only ones I can think of who aren’t pleased are snowmobilers, ice-fishermen and fuel oil dealers. It’s good for the wildlife, too, so on balance, I’m in favor of it continuing.

The early trout opener for the southeastern part of the state is only six weeks away.

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