PGC proposing big changes to seasons, regulations

Commentary

In January, the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners typically meets to set the seasons and bag limits for the upcoming hunting seasons.

Most of the time, this session is unspectacular with the commissioners plugging in the same old slate of hunting seasons and regulations. Last Tuesday, however, the commissioners proposed a multitude of sweeping changes for the 2019-2020 campaign.

I would need more space than the other sports guys are devoting to the Super Bowl today to discuss them all, so I’ll offer an overview of the most significant proposals with more in-depth commentary on some of them in the coming weeks.

The proposal that might cause the most buzz among the hunting community is moving the opening of the regular deer season to the Saturday after Thanksgiving instead of the longtime Monday after Thanksgiving opener. Personally, I don’t care what day the season starts, but a Saturday start and then taking off Sunday seems more than ridiculous. Would have made more sense if we also simply adopted Sunday hunting.

Of course, to avoid any overlap in hunting seasons, the late-November turkey season will have to be shortened to two days to accommodate a Saturday firearms deer opener. Or does anyone care? Why is it that our Game Commission seems to think we can’t have any overlap in many hunting seasons?

The mid-October muzzleloader and special firearms deer seasons would be expanded to include bears statewide. I’m thinking you’ll need to shell out $34 for both a muzzleloader license and archery license for that one.

Show them the money. The statewide archery bear season would be increased to two weeks and moved to the two weeks following the muzzleloader and special firearms bear seasons. The four-day extended bear seasons to six days during the first week of deer season in most wildlife management units. And just in case anyone really cares, the porcupine season will be cut back by about 10 weeks statewide.

In a measure billed as simplifying the fluorescent orange requirements while hunting, preliminary approval given to eliminating the requirement to wear fluorescent orange at any time while archery hunting for deer or bear. The proposal also would eliminate the requirement for fall turkey hunters to wear fluorescent orange material. The requirement to post orange while deer, bear or elk hunting from an enclosed blind also would remain

The commissioners also announced they will entertain a proposal to allow semiautomatic rifles for big game in the 2019-20 license year. If voted upon and given preliminary approval in April, the measure could be considered for final adoption in July and put in place for the 2019-20 license year. Hopefully, this measure will finally be adopted and allow Pennsylvania hunters to get enter the 21st century.

Undoubtedly, one or more of these proposals will excite or upset you. If so, let the commissioners know where you stand. The public may offer comments on all proposed 2019-20 seasons and bag limits, as well as other board actions, between now and the board’s next quarterly meeting on April 9. Written comments can be submitted by email to pgccomments@pa.gov up until the April meeting.

Wild Game Feast

It’s always my pleasure to announce the popular Wild Game Feast hosted each year by the Altoona Alliance Church located at 3220 Pleasant Valley Blvd next to Planet Fitness. This year will mark the 14th annual installment of this worthwhile event, which will be held on Saturday, March 17. The buffet style meal will include various kinds of delicious wild-game dishes, including elk, moose, bear, deer, rabbit, pheasant and fish, along with sides, desserts and drinks. And there are always some “regular” foods like store-bought turkey and hot dogs. Having attended this event many times, I’ve always found the variety and quality of the food and the entertainment to be excellent.

This year’s featured speaker will be former Pittsburgh Steeler Pete Rostosky, who played offensive line for the Steelers from 1984 to 1987. Rotosky grew up on a farm in western Pennsylvania where he played high school football for Elizabeth Forward. He earned a scholarship to the University of Connecticut and after graduation was signed as a free agent by the Steelers. Rotosky is an avid hunter who currently owns a business in Pittsburgh, coaches high school football, and is a sought-after motivational speaker.

Doors for the Altoona Alliance Church Wild Game Feast will open at 4 p.m. and dinner will be served at 5 p.m. Plan to get there early and browse some of the informational booths and outdoor resource tables that will be on display. Space is limited, however, and tickets are required for admission. Pastor Tim McGarvey said, “This is not a fundraiser for our church, but an outreach event we love doing for the community. We are asking a suggested donation of $15 per ticket to cover our costs.”

Tickets will be available starting Monday. Please, don’t call the church today. Tickets are limited to ages 10 and older. For more information, call 944-0171 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

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