VENESKY: Possible Saturday opener for rifle deer season generates lots of discussion

(Wilkes-Barre) Times-Leader (TNS)
  • The Pennsylvania Game Commission discussed a possible Saturday opener for rifle deer season.
  • The idea is likely to generate opposition from older hunters, but may be popular with the younger crowd.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission gave deer hunters more time afield when the board added an extra day to the fall archery season.

In the future, rifle deer hunters could get more time as well.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is discussing a possible Saturday opening day for the state's rifle deer season. YORK DISPATCH FILE PHOTO

After the board agreed to move the end of the fall archery season to Monday, Nov. 12 — which is Veterans Day — commissioner James Daley said a change from the traditional Monday opener of the rifle deer season may be on the horizon as well.

Daley said the conversation to switch the opener to the preceding Saturday could take place next year, but the mention of the idea generated plenty of discussion during last Tuesday’s quarterly meeting.

Game Commission surveys, Daley said, indicate that hunters want to keep the Monday opening day. But those surveys generally target one segment of the hunting population — older hunters — according to Daley. He believes the generation of hunters younger than 40 would be in favor of a Saturday opener.

“I think it makes sense,” Daley said of the idea. “Just because (Monday opening day) it’s a tradition doesn’t mean you have to keep it.

“If it’s an inhibition to us being able to offer hunting, why are we keeping it?”

Hunting camp issue: Several commissioners acknowledged the Saturday opener idea would be opposed by those who have hunting camps and utilize the weekend to get things ready for the Monday opening day of deer season. Daley said the camp tradition is on the decline, and commissioner Brian Hoover added the Friday after Thanksgiving is a holiday for most, so camp owners would still have a free day before the Saturday opening day.

Hoover also agreed with Daley that a Saturday opener would appeal to younger hunters who can’t take Monday off from work.

“Everyone like the status quo and no one likes to see change,” Hoover said regarding potential opposition to the idea from older hunters.

As far as overall season length if Saturday were to become the opening day, Daley said he didn’t think it would have to be shortened. He added there might be an increase in hunters, and any resulting hike in the deer harvest can be managed by antlerless license allocations.

Sunday hunting: In other business, the board reaffirmed its support of legislative action that would allow for expanded Sunday hunting opportunities.

The resolution adopted by the board is in response to a direct request from the nonprofit group Hunters United for Sunday Hunting, a representative of which testified to the board on Monday.

The resolution is at least the third the Board of Game Commissioners has adopted over the years in support of expanded Sunday hunting. The board’s support has remained consistent through the regular turnover of commissioners due to terms expiring and replacements being appointed.