You’ve got to roll with the punches from the PGC

Since that day many decades ago that the Pennsylvania Game Commission was born, hunters have opposed and complained about nearly everything they have ever done.

Just recently, the issue of opening day for rifle deer season was moved to Saturday, and oh how the hunters complained.

We’ve just about adjusted to that change but just recently, the Game Commission approved having deer season be a concurrent effort now. That means we will be hunting does and bucks at the same time during both weeks of season. That will probably mean a noisy, busy season since deer will be shifted from place to place constantly. I remember well back in the 1960s when doe hunting was first allowed and oh the comments that if we killed does, the deer herd would soon die out. There are still those who will not allow doe hunting on their properties.

We recently found out that the Commission has eliminated hunting fall turkeys with rifles. That is a big change. I harvested my first fall turkey in 1965 with a rifle. That was all I had to use back then. Having no shotgun, I used my rifle for the next few years in the fall until I joined the National Wild Turkey Federation, and became active and saw that almost all the hunters I met there all used shotguns for turkeys.

It is truly the excitement that comes with calling and luring the bird to your gun, and the deceptive way you had to learn to talk to the gobblers in the spring to get them to come looking for you.

It is much more exciting than just sitting in the woods waiting for turkeys to come walking by so you could pick one off with the rifle.

Of course if you remember back in the 1960s when spring gobbler hunting was allowed, the hunters became dissatisfied with the tame behavior turkeys displayed when they were packed up from the turkey farms and dumped out on farms and suitable habitat on state game lands. They were so tame, so dumb really that they would sit on barn roosts and electric lines.

But when it was suggested that the state was going to cease raising wild turkeys on farms and then stocking them, hunters were horrified! Not raise turkeys on farms?

They were sure the turkey populations would die out if the PGC went with this new, unfamiliar trap and transfer program. It got almost to the point of riots, the idea that you could boost the wild turkey population by trapping birds in one place and transferring them to another.

Many a baited site was sabotaged and damaged by those who were sure the PGC had really gone haywire with such a foolish plan. But their plan was based on research and data and we must admit today that turkey hunting, especially in the spring, is second only to deer hunting for excitement and anticipation.

I remember when, under Dr. Gary Alt’s leadership, the cub law was instituted. There was no more having to guess whether a bear you saw in the woods was a juvenile or an adult. Technically, that could only be determined after a bear was dead and their teeth examined. But Alt’s program made hunters believe that there would be a slaughter of 30 pound cubs if that law was allowed.

The uproar over that was electric but the PCG went ahead and put it into law. Hunters quickly got educated: there is no such thing as a 30–pound bear cub in the fall season. In fact, cubs are about as big as their mothers by the fall. What there was no more of were actual cubs left to lie dead in the woods because upon checking the teeth, a hunter would realize it wasn’t legal and just walk away.

All the above mentioned changes turned out to be good ones. This is what we pay the biologists for — researching what will be the best routine for the species in question. The PGC does not make rules to satisfy the whims of the hunters. We should be thankful for that.


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