More changes in store for 2020 hunting seasons

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners held its regular quarterly meeting last week. The January meeting is typically when the board sets the proposed seasons and bag limits for the next hunting and trapping seasons.

Several significant changes were proposed for the 2020-21 seasons, among them the inclusion of three days of Sunday hunting that were approved by the state legislature last year.

The first of those Sundays will occur on Nov. 15 as part of the fall archery deer season. That date would mark the last day of the archery season, ending it on a Sunday rather than a Saturday. The next Sunday would occur on Nov. 22 during the statewide bear season. Instead of adding an extra day of bear hunting, however, bear season will remain at four days, shifting from the usual Saturday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday format to four consecutive days, Saturday through Tuesday, Nov. 21-24.

The shift in the bear season will allow the special Thanksgiving turkey season to return to three days on Wednesday through Friday, Nov. 25-27. Since it began a few years back, this “extra” turkey season was set for Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Thanksgiving week. Last year, when the opening of the regular deer season was changed to the Saturday after Thanksgiving and bear season ended on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the season was shortened to just two days, Thursday and Friday. Of course, what really would be the problem with having the bear and turkey seasons overlap for a day or two? I’ve always found it a little silly that we seem to have an aversion for overlapping some hunting seasons here in Pennsylvania. Does our Game Commission really think that we hunters aren’t smart enough to decide what we want to hunt for on any given day?

The final trial Sunday for 2020 will occur on Nov. 29 during the regular deer season, which is proposed to open again on Saturday this year, Nov. 28. That will allow deer hunters to enjoy eight straight days hunting to begin the season. While I was mostly ambivalent to the Saturday opener last year, I thought it was generally silly to open the season on Saturday when we can’t hunt on Sunday.

Antlerless deer season will again run concurrently during the entire 14 days of regular deer season statewide. Our antlerless deer harvest in Pennsylvania is determined by antlerless license quotas, not length of any given season.

Therefore, it really makes no sense to make a hunter wait until the first Saturday of the season to harvest a doe if he wanted to. The extended bear season will also run concurrently with the first week of deer season, Nov. 20-Dec. 5, in WMUs 1B, 2C, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 5A, which includes much of our region.

On the small-game front, squirrel season will begin a full month earlier than usual on Sept. 12. On the other hand, fall turkey hunters in much of our region will see the season cut to just one week, October 31-Nov. 7, in WMUs 1B, 2C, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 5A. These WMUs will still include the three-day Thanksgiving season.

Keep in mind that these and all the other proposals given preliminary approval at last week’s board meeting must be voted on at the next Game Commission meeting scheduled for early April. While most proposals tend to pass smoothly when it comes time for the final vote, changes and amendments are always possible. Stay tuned.

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 15th annual installment of this worthwhile event, which will be held on Saturday, March 21. 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.

This year’s featured speaker will be Mike Tison from Goodrich, Michigan. Tison is a sought-after motivational speaker, author and ordained chaplain. He is a former chaplain of the Detroit Thunder, a professional indoor football team. He recently founded Wildfire Athletics, a youth sports ministry in southeast Michigan.

He loves to hunt, engage in outdoor adventure, and coach varsity softball. When he is not on the speaking circuit, Tison likes to vacation with his family, write, and spend time taking photographs of God’s amazing creation. His presentation will include stories and humor from his hunting adventures.

Doors for the Altoona Alliance Church Wild Game Feast will open at 4 p.m. and dinner will be served at 5 p.m., followed by Tison’s presentation and the awarding of a generous array of door prizes. Space is limited, however, and tickets are required for admission.

A donation of $15 per ticket is suggested to help cover the costs of the event. Although the event is several weeks away, getting tickets early is encouraged to avoid disappointment because they tend to go rather quickly once the word gets out.

Tickets will be available starting tomorrow, Feb. 3 (please, don’t call the church today!) at the church office. Tickets are limited to ages 10 and older. To obtain tickets or for more information, call the church office at 944-0171 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Special presentation

The John Kennedy Chapter of Trout Unlimited will feature Bill Anderson of Tyrone as the guest speaker at their regular monthly meeting this Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m. Anderson is the president of the Little Juniata River Association, a conservation organization dedicated to preserving and improving the water quality and the trout fishery of the Little Juniata River watershed. His presentation will be “The Wild Brown Trout of the Little Juniata River.”

Following the presentation, Anderson will demonstrate tying his favorite fly patterns for the Little Juniata River. The public is welcome to attend this free program at the Allegheny Township Volunteer Fire Department located at 651 Sugar Run Road, Altoona.