BY DOYLE DIETZ
It will be hunting as usual for the statewide firearms deer season in the majority of wildlife management units when hunters go afield for the Saturday, Nov. 28, opening day.
Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Game Commission board of commissioners met online because of the COVID-19 outbreak and set seasons and bag limits for the 2020-21 license year and it rejected the proposed statewide concurrent antlered and antlerless, maintaining the split seasons in 13 wildlife management units. Included are area WMUs 3B, 3C. 3D, 4C and 4E which will have seven days — including Sunday, Nov. 29 — of antlered-only hunting beginning opening day through Friday, Dec. 4.
Beginning Saturday, Dec. 5, these WMUs are among those that will begin seven days of concurrent antlered and antlerless hunting through Saturday, Dec. 12. According to commissioner Brian Hoover, a big reason for not having the 14-day statewide concurrent season that was proposed at the January quarterly meeting it would have necessitated a major across the board reduction in antlerless allocations.
Antlerless allocations for area WMUs, with last year’s allocations in parentheses, are: 3B — 33,000 (30,000); 3C — 44,000 (46,000); 3D – 26,000 (25,000); 4C — 32,000 (36,000); and 4E — 37,000 (34,000). WMU 5C, which is a Special Regulations Area and once again has a 14-day concurrent season, receives the same 70,000 allocations as last year.
“We had a lot of public input and it was apparent hunters had become used to the split seasons and hoped they would continue,” Hoover said. “Had we gone with the statewide concurrent seasons there would have been a 15-percent reduction in antlerless allocations, and we found out hunters like the idea of being able to get a doe tag.
“As for continuing the Saturday opener, it’s something we’re going to continue to look at because it means added opportunity. We understand it’s an adjustment for some who have camps, but we’re not going to change after one year.”
A demographic study of hunters between the ages of 20-40 indicated overwhelming support for the Saturday opening day for the firearms deer season. College students who have Monday classes and workers with low seniority who are unable to take Monday as a vacation day fall within that age group.
“We understand the Saturday opener is a change in tradition, but there are many changes today in the way we live and do things,” commissioner Tim Layton said. “This is something that we will continue to look at for at least two more years so we have time to see the impact it has on young hunters and for that matter, out-of-state hunters.”
In addition to Sunday, Nov. 29, being included in the firearms deer season, two other Sundays are included in big game seasons, which were authorized by State Legislators.
Sunday, Nov. 15, is part of the statewide archery deer season and Sunday, Nov. 22, is part of the statewide general bear season.
This year will be the longest statewide archery season on record, opening Saturday, Oct. 3, and concluding Friday, Nov. 20. Originally, the commissioners had proposed extending the season by adding Sunday, Nov. 15, to take advantage of the rut.
After requests from hunters and input from PGC staff, however, they voted to extend the season five more days until the start of the statewide bear season, Saturday, Nov. 21.
Bear season is four consecutive days through Tuesday, Nov. 24, giving those hunting from camps the opportunity to have them prepared for the opening of firearms deer season.
WMUs with a fall turkey season opening day is Saturday, Oct. 31, with the length of the season varying. Most WMUs will also have a three-day Thanksgiving season Wednesday-Friday, Nov. 25-27.
For the 2021 spring gobbler season, which opens Saturday, May 1, and runs through Monday, May 31, legal shooting hours will be one-half hour before sunrise until noon from opening day through Saturday, May 15, and from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset, Monday, May 17, through the end of the season. A one-day Spring Gobbler Youth Hunt will be Saturday, April 24, from one-half hour before sunrise until noon.
Dietz is parliamentarian of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association. Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org