Preliminary approval to make permanent the lawful use of crossbows in archery deer and bear seasons was passed by an 8-0 vote by the Pennsylvania Game Commission board of game commissioners at last week's first quarterly meeting of the year. Final approval is expected at the April 24 meeting, when seasons and bag limits and antlerless permits will be approved for the 2012-13 hunting and trapping seasons.

In action affecting hunting, preliminary approval was given to expand opportunities by making it legal for all properly licensed hunters to hunt bear in specific wildlife management units during the early and regular archery deer seasons and the October antlerless muzzleloader season. Also, grouse, rabbit and squirrel seasons have been extended from Saturday, Dec. 22, to Monday, Dec. 24, for those off from school and work.

Also receiving preliminary approval, in an effort to find effective tools to manage the deer populations on agriculture lands in the southeast corner of the state, was a regulatory change to expand the legalized use of bait during all deer hunting seasons in WMUs 5C and 5D on approved properties enrolled in the agency's Agricultural Damage Depredation Program, commonly referred to as the "Red Tag" program.

"If adopted in April, this new regulation will allow the focused use of bait on those farms most in need of deer control assistance through their enrollment in the 'Red Tag' program," PGC executive director Carl Roe said. "Presently, farmers applying to enroll in the Red Tag program need to include in their application justification for the need to use bait. What this regulatory change would do is allow hunters on these properties to use bait during any legal deer season in addition to the 'Red Tag' seasons for antlerless deer, which are from February 1 to May 15, and July 1 to September 28."

Farmers enrolled in the "Red Tag" program are provided with a specific number of antlerless deer permits, which are red in color. Farmers then give these permits to hunters to harvest antlerless deer from February 1 to September 28 each calendar year, excluding Sundays, during the hours of dawn to dusk only, but are not valid from May 16 to June 30.

These special permits are legal only for antlerless deer. Listings of farms enrolled in the "Red Tag" program are maintained by the respective PGC Region Offices as those landowners enrolled in the program change from year to year.

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This year's first quarterly meeting of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will be Monday and Tuesday at the agency's headquarters, Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg.

Monday, PFBC committees will meet, beginning at 10:10 a.m., and Tuesday, beginning at 8 a.m. Formal consideration of the agenda by the full commission will begin Tuesday at approximately 10:20 a.m., and all committee meetings and the formal meeting are open to the public.

Among the items to be discussed is a recommendation to approve a grant not to exceed $270,000 to the Wildlands Conservancy for water trail and access area development along the Lehigh River in Carbon, Northampton and Lehigh counties. Lehigh County, Walnutport Borough, the conservancy and the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources also are providing funding to the project.

In addition to the regular business meeting, the PFBC will host a free fly-fishing program Monday from 6-9 p.m. at the headquarters office.

For information and registration, access the PFBC website at www.fishandboat.com [1] or call Ted Walke at 717.705.7813.

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Pennsylvania Cable Network has scheduled several outdoors-related program for its LIVE PCN Call-In, beginning Tuesday, Jan. 31, when State Senator Richard Alloway, chair of the Game and Fisheries Committee, will appear as "On the Issues" guest at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, the guests will be executive director of Pennsylvania Hunters Sharing the Harvest chairman and consultant for the Pennsylvania Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus John Plowman and events director of the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show Chris O'Hara. Thursday, Feb. 9, the guests are Archer's Choice Media owners Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo.

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This week's edition of "Experience The Outdoors," hosted by award-winning Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association member Doyle Dietz, Sunday, at 7 a.m. on 1410 WLSH and 9:30 a.m. on Magic 105.5, will feature the second of a two-part interview with Eastern Sports and Outdoors Show promoter Chris O'Hara.

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A trap shoot will be held, Thursday, Feb. 2, beginning at 6 p.m., at Orwigsburg Gun Club, Gun Club Road, off Route 443 East, Orwigsburg. For information, e-mail jafone@comcast.net [2].

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Schuylkill Spurs Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation will meet, Thursday, Feb. 2, beginning at 7:30 p.m., at 633 Hancock St., McAdoo. For information, call Kevin Titus at 570-668-5903.

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2012 Outdoors Sports Show Schedule: Early Bird Sports Expo, today and Sunday, Bloomsburg Fairgrounds, Bloomsburg. Hours: Today, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information, access the website at www.earlybirdsportsexpo.com; [3] 18th Century Artisan Show, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 3 and 4, Country Cupboard, Lewisburg. Hours: Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For information, call John Getz at 570-658-7263 or Art DeCamp at 814-643-6343;

Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, Saturday-Sunday, Feb. 4-12, Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex, 2300 North Cameron St., Harrisburg. Hours: Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays and Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. For information and tickets, access the website at www.easternsportshow.com [4] http://www.easternsportshow.com/ [5] ; Lancaster Muzzle Loading Rifle Association Gun Show, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 4 and 5, Lancaster Farm and Home Center, 1383 Arcadia Road, Lancaster. Hours: Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For information, call Jim Kleppinger at 717-368-4653; Sportsman's Show and Flea Market, Saturday, Feb. 11, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Farmer's Market, Leesport. For information, contact Ralph Reber at 610-944-9376 or access the website at www.ralphsfishing.com [6] http://www.ralphsfishing.com/ [7] ; Greater Philadelphia Outdoor Sports Show, Thursday-Sunday, Feb. 16-19, Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, Oaks. Show hours: Thursday, 1–9 p.m.; Friday, 12:30–9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information and tickets, access the website at www.sportshows.com [8].