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Firearms deer opener changed to Saturday

It’s official.

During a meeting Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Game Commission board of commissioners approved moving the state’s traditional Monday-after-Thanksgiving opener to the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Season dates are Nov. 30 through Dec. 14, with the first week antlered-only except for wildlife management units 2B, 5C and 5D. The season changes statewide to antlered and antlerless on Dec. 7.

The vote for the Saturday opening day wasn’t unanimous; it was 7-1. Commissioner Brian Hoover, who represents the nine counties of the state’s southeast region, spoke in favor of the change before the vote.

“We need to look to the future, to our youth, and not be shortsighted,” Hoover said, adding that he hadn’t received complaints from the public about the proposal. “We’re going to stay the course.”

Commissioners’ president Timothy Layton said he’d gotten negative responses from the public.

“The overwhelming response (via emails) was negative,” Layton said. “To incur the wrath of this population, all these people, is not a good thing.”

Daley then made a motion to revert to the Monday opening day. In a roll-call vote, Layton, Vice President James Daley and Michael Metrick voted in favor of Monday; Commissioners Brian Hoover, Charlie Fox, Dennis R. Fredericks, Scott Foradora and Secretary Stanley Knick voted against Monday. By 5-3, the proposal to revert to Monday failed.

The board then voted on setting the seasons and bag limits — including setting Saturday after Thanksgiving as opener — which passed 7-1, with Daley voting no.

According to the revised season dates, small game and fall turkey seasons will end on Friday, instead of Saturday, after Thanksgiving, to accommodate the firearms season opening day.

Other approved changes include:

For black bear, the October muzzleloader (Oct. 19-26) and special firearms seasons (for junior and senior license holders, and residents on active duty, Oct. 24-26) will be statewide. Also, the length of the extended firearms bear season will increase from four to six days in several WMUs: 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D.

For elk, a September archery season and January antlerless season will be added, to address hunter crowding during the regular season as well as improve the agency’s ability to respond to elk-human complaints.

For bobcat, expanding hunting and trapping opportunities in WMU 4B, and expand fisher trapping opportunity to 4A.

For beaver, an increase in the season bag limit from 20 to 40 from WMUs 2A and 2B, in response to nuisance complaints in these areas.

The special late archery and flintlock seasons will begin Dec. 26 and extend to Jan. 20, to include Martin Luther King Day.

The fluorescent orange requirements were amended. Fluorescent orange is no longer required for the following seasons: fall or spring turkeys, crow, dove, waterfowl, falconry, flintlock, archery deer, archery bear, all furbearer seasons (except when hunting concurrently with the special firearms or regular firearms seasons for deer). Woodchuck hunters must wear a solid fluorescent orange hat. When hunting from a blind during any firearms season for deer, elk or bear, hunters must place 100 square inches of fluorescent orange material within 15 feet of the blind and visible 360 degrees.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission board of commissioners on Tuesday approved moving the state’s traditional Monday-after-Thanksgiving opener to the Saturday after Thanksgiving. TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO