Highlights from PA Game Commission Meeting

Fluorescent Orange Requirements Could Be Simplified

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a measure that would simplify requirements to wear fluorescent orange material while hunting.

There would be no changes to the requirements that apply in many seasons. And the use of orange will continue to be highly recommended for all seasons, whether required or not.

The measure will be brought back to the April meeting for a final vote, and any changes would be put in place for the 2019-20 license year to begin July 1.

The proposal would eliminate the requirement to wear fluorescent orange at any time while archery hunting for deer or bear.

This would eliminate all overlap periods when archery hunters are required to wear varying amounts of fluorescent orange while moving or post orange material while in a fixed position.

The proposal also would eliminate the requirement for fall turkey hunters to wear fluorescent orange material.

All other seasons would continue with their existing fluorescent orange requirements.

Hunters in deer, bear, elk firearms seasons, small game season and those hunting coyotes during daylight hours within open deer, bear or elk firearms seasons, would continue with the requirement to wear, at all times, 250 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange material on the head, chest and back combined, visible from 360 degrees.

Woodchuck hunters would continue with the requirement to wear a solid fluorescent orange hat at all times. And hunters in seasons for crows, doves, waterfowl, post-Christmas flintlock deer, spring turkeys and furbearers (with the exception of coyotes as noted above) would continue without fluorescent orange requirements.

The requirement to post orange while deer, bear or elk hunting from an enclosed blind also would remain.

Commissioners said the changes are intended to clear up the complexity of existing fluorescent orange requirements, which each year result in a significant number of violations detected by State Game Wardens.

Semiautomatic Rifles to be Considered for Big-Game Hunting

With Pennsylvania in the stretch run of its first hunting season in which semiautomatic shotguns were permitted for big-game hunting, and semiautomatic rifles have been permitted for hunting small game and furbearers, the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners announced Tuesday it will entertain a proposal to allow semiautomatic rifles for big game in the 2019-20 license year.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is accepting public comment on the matter, which could be considered at the commissioners next quarterly meeting April 9.

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.

Written comments can be submitted by e-mail to pgccomments@pa.gov up until the April meeting.

Like the proposal to move the opening day of the firearms deer season to the Saturday after Thanksgiving, which was given preliminary approval on Tuesday, the proposal to expand opportunities to hunt with semiautomatic rifles seeks to provide for the changing demographics of license buyers and their needs.

Mentored Hunting Programs Open to All Ages

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners on Tuesday gave final approval to a measure that bridges the mentored youth and mentored adult hunting programs.

The mentored hunting programs are designed to increase hunter recruitment by providing an opportunity to experience hunting without the requirement to obtain a license.

With the change, youth up to 16 years of age can participate in the mentored youth program, and those 17 and older can participate in the mentored adult program.

Under the previous framework, there was no opportunity for those 12 to 17 to participate in a mentored program.

Mentored permits under the new framework will be available when 2019-20 hunting licenses go on sale.

Mentored hunters may hunt only certain game species and must follow other requirements.

Mentored youth may hunt only squirrels, rabbits, doves, woodchucks, coyotes, deer and turkeys.

Mentored youth under the age of 7 do not receive their own big-game harvest tags; their adult mentors must possess a valid harvest tag when hunting deer or turkeys, and the mentor must transfer the tag to the mentored youth upon harvest by the mentored youth.

Additionally, the mentor and mentored youth may possess only one sporting arm between them, and it must be carried by the mentor at all times while moving.

Meanwhile, mentored adults may hunt only squirrels, ruffed grouse, rabbits, pheasants (pheasant permit required), bobwhite quail, hares, porcupines, woodchucks, crows, coyotes, antlerless deer and turkeys.

Mentored adults receive only a spring turkey tag with their permits. To harvest a fall turkey, their mentor must possess a valid fall-turkey harvest tag; and to harvest an antlerless deer, their mentor must possess a valid antlerless license or Deer Management Assistance Program permit; then transfer the applicable harvest tag to the mentored adult at the time of harvest. And a mentored adult must hunt within eyesight of the mentor.

While the mentored programs are viewed as important recruitment tools, they’re not intended as a substitute for getting a hunting license.

And the measure approved Tuesday requires that all mentored hunters ages 12 or older may participate in a mentored program for a maximum of three, unbroken license years.

After that period, or following any year they lapse from the program, they’ll be required to obtain a license if they want to continue hunting.

Youngsters who participated in the mentored youth program for at least three years before turning 12 would be required to get a license at 12, rather than continuing as a mentored hunter.

 

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