The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports Columns

January 28, 2012

Don Steese's Outdoors column: PGC makes changes

DANVILLE — At their annual winter meeting, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has proposed seasons and bag limits identical to this past year’s, with the exception of expanding mentored youth hunting to include the fall turkey season.

I see little opposition to the mentored youth hunting program among sportsmen these days. When first proposed some raised safety concerns but I hear few mention the subject any longer.

The commissioners are also proposing removing the sunset date from the regulation allowing crossbow use during the regular archery deer and bear seasons. This would make the use of crossbows legal permanently during the archery seasons here in Pennsylvania. I don’t think this move comes as a surprise to anyone. One doesn’t see too many “trial balloons” when it comes to changes of this nature.

The deer seasons for the 2012-13 license year remain essentially the same as they were for 2011-2012. The split seasons and antler restrictions remain the same. The decision that most deer hunters are interested in, of course, are antlerless license allocations and they won’t be set until the spring commission meeting scheduled for April 23 and 24.

Also at their meeting, the commissioners elected Ralph Martone, of New Castle, as board president, while commissioer Robert Schlemmer, of New Castle, was elected as board vice president.

The term of Commissioner Thomas Boop, of Sunbury, expired yesterday. I’m sure a lot of deer hunters will be sorry to see Tom go as he was a strong critic of the game commission’s current deer management program and and wasn’t bashful about criticizing the agency he served. He pushed hard for fewer antlerless license allocations, especially on public land in the state’s northern tier where deer hunting has a long and storied tradition. I will personally miss Tom as he was always willing to answer questions and offer opinions. Every time I called his office I’d get a prompt reply.

My season is officially over with the closing of the late woodcock season in Maryland and the late grouse season here in Pennsylvania. I can’t remember ever being more depressed about the season being done. I think it has something to do with the fact that this past season was a huge disappointment. It started very poorly in Saskatchewan back in September and didn’t improve much at all. Birds were somewhere between endangered and extinct, dog work was mediocre to embarrassing, and my shooting went from very bad to abysmal.

Every day I went out this past year I thought “today will be the day that it all comes together!” Today there will be birds in all the places where there should be birds, my dogs will handle every one like a field trial champion and each flushed bird will fly directly into my pattern.

The cruel truth is, it never happened.

The old saying goes “Some days you bite the bear, and some days the bear bites you.” I have so many bite holes from this past season I could pass for a piece of swiss cheese! At my age I don’t need much in the way of equipment, but I am going to invest in a new rabbit’s foot before next season — and maybe some shooting lessons.

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