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Pa. Game Commission board to set Sunday hunting dates

Directors of the Pennsylvania Game Commission will meet Friday and Saturday to act on proposals that could change season dates for certain game, establish the three dates for Sunday hunting and make hunting both does and bucks lawful throughout the 14-day firearms season for deer.

The PGC decided to hold a meeting on a Saturday to give members of the public a chance to attend. The Saturday meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. at PGC headquarters, 2001 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg.

For deer, a 14-day concurrent antlered and antlerless firearms season is recommended to provide increased opportunity, especially for younger hunters. As now authorized by statute, Sunday hunting for deer is proposed for one Sunday (Nov. 15) during the statewide archery season and one Sunday (Nov. 29) during the statewide firearms season. The first Saturday after Thanksgiving is Nov. 28.

For small game, earlier opening dates are proposed for youth and regular squirrel seasons to increase opportunity on this underutilized species at a time when most other hunting seasons are closed. The youth season would open Sept. 12, ending Sept. 26, with regular squirrel season opening Sept. 26. Also, WMUs 4E and 5A are proposed to be opened to either-sex pheasant hunting (except within Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas) to maximize hunting opportunity for stocked pheasants.

A one-week decrease in the fall turkey season is recommended for WMUs 4D and 4E in response to declining turkey population trends in these units. Also, for those WMUs where turkey populations can support a Thanksgiving season, this season is proposed be increased from two to three days, in a Wednesday through Friday format.

Overall black bear season recommendations are similar to those in 2019, but with two changes in format. First, the two-week statewide archery season for bear is proposed to be shifted one week earlier, with the first week of this season overlapping with muzzleloader and special firearms seasons to simplify regulations. Second, the statewide firearms season is proposed to include the newly authorized third Sunday (Nov. 29), but to close on Tuesday rather than Wednesday to accommodate a 1-day expansion in the Thanksgiving segment of the fall turkey season.

Other proposed changes:

• Dove Hunting - It is currently unlawful to hunt mourning doves on or over lands or areas where grain or other feed has been distributed or scattered as the result of manipulation of an agricultural crop or other feed after Sept. 15 each license year. The Commission has observed that the September 15 cutoff date disallows a significant degree of flexibility for weather and planting related delays in the maturation and proper drying of the vegetation planting in the crop fields. This has resulted in instances of lost hunting opportunities and wasted investments in these areas prepared and intended for mourning dove hunting.

DMAP (Deer Management Assistance Program) – A longstanding provision of the DMAP regulations has limited individual hunters to receiving no more than two DMAP permits for each unit or area enrolled in the program. The Commission has reviewed this limitation and determined that it may be unreasonably limiting private landowners from effectively using the program to harvest enough deer on their lands to meet their deer management goals. The Commission is proposing to increase the number of DMAP harvest permits that a person may receive for each DMAP unit or area from two to four, except for those DMAP areas designated by the Commission that will remain at a maximum of two harvest permits per person.