PGC to review Sat. vs. Mon. deer opener

When should firearms deer season start?

The Pennsylvania Game Commission set the 2024 opener for the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

But there will also be additional dialogue on the issue in response to calls for the traditional Monday opener.

“The board long has expressed the belief the Saturday opener better accommodates the majority of hunters and is better for the future of hunting, opinions backed by evidence such as license sales and a scientific survey of hunters,” the PGC said in a statement.

But PGC President Commissioner Scott Foradora outlined how the board wants to learn more about the impacts of opening the season on Saturday.

“With today’s vote, the Board has once again scheduled the start of the firearms deer season to be on a Saturday,” he said. “We do this, firmly believing that starting the season on a Saturday creates the most opportunity for hunters, and thus helps ensure the future of the sport that we are charged with protecting.

“Nonetheless, we recognize that there are those with a different opinion, who would like to see a return to a Monday opener. And we recognize the passion that many of you feel about this issue. We may disagree, but we have heard your voices.”

Foradora said the Saturday vs. Monday debate has “unfortunately caused considerable disagreement within our hunting ranks. It has fractured and divided us, at a time when we should be united.”

He then directed PGC staff to work with the House Game and Fisheries Committee to study the issue.

“It is my hope that a comprehensive review can take place, to address some of the concerns that we have heard and ensure that the Board’s decision is truly in the best interest of our hunting community,” he said.

A couple of other provisions implemented recently aim to expand hunting opportunities for youth.

The PGC gave “preliminary approval” to a proposal to allow mentors hunting with mentored youth to accompany up to two additional hunters. That’s a one-to-one ratio regardless of the age of the mentored hunter.

“If the measure is adopted, the requirement that limits mentors and mentored youth from possessing only one sporting arm between them will remain,” the Commission said in a statement. “A mentor would continue to carry the sporting arm at all times while moving. Junior hunters and mentored adults would be able to possess their own sporting arms while accompanied by a common mentor.”

The Commission says it “evaluated the relevant safety data and determined the amendments will not create an unreasonable safety risk.”

A bill approved in the state Senate aims to raise funds for youth hunting and fishing education programs through the creation of a “Pennsylvania Sportsman” license plate.

“The Pennsylvania Sportsman plate would cost $40 plus the registration fee, of which $14 would be deposited into a Youth Hunting and Fishing Restricted Account to be allocated equally to the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission for the purpose of promoting youth hunting and fishing activities,” Sen. Scott Hutchinson said in his most recent newsletter.


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