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Game Commission approves Sunday dates, more proposals

Pennsylvania Game Commission directors met Saturday, giving unanimous approval to changes which would expand hunting seasons and clarify language in hunting regulations. The directors will meet in April to formally approve the changes:

The firearm season for deer will open the Saturday after Thanksgiving and include the following Sunday, Nov. 29. During the 14-day season, hunters can harvest both antlered and antlerless deer. Archers can hunt the last Sunday of the season, Nov. 15.

Squirrel season will begin Sept. 12, for both youth and adult hunters. 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.

Rules for carrying bows and muzzleloaders could change. A new proposal would allow archery deer hunters to carry muzzleloaders when archery season overlaps with muzzleloader bear season. When a hunter is carrying both archery and muzzleloader equipment, he or she must must possess valid licenses and tags to use either and are required to follow the fluorescent-orange requirements for the muzzleloader season.

Hunters with multiple deer tags might soon be free of the restriction to tag the first deer they harvest before attempting to harvest a second. That’s currently allowed in the state’s special regulation areas, where hunters with multiple tags may attempt to fill them without first tagging a harvested deer.

A one-week decrease in the fall turkey season was 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. Directors opted to further research those proposed changes.

The archery season for bear will open one week earlier, on Oct. 17 and continue through Nov. 7, so that the first week of this season overlaps with the muzzleloader and special firearms season.

Second, the statewide firearms season for bear will include Sunday, Nov. 29, but close on Tuesday rather than Wednesday to accommodate a one-day expansion in the Thanksgiving segment of the fall turkey season.

In the DMAP (Deer Management Assistance Program), the commissioners voted 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.

Calling the language “complex and inconsistent”, directors voted to clarify eligibility standards for mentored hunters. They will also organize the allowed species into one list and allow mentored hunters to directly apply for harvest tags.

Electric bicycles (also called E bikes) will be allowed on game lands. The permitted bicycles will be class one (operator must be pedaling to get electric assist) and class two (electric assist without pedaling.)

Two game lands within Schuylkill County will increase in size. In West Penn Township, 125 formerly owned by the Nature Conservancy will be added to State Game Land #217. The PGC purchased the lands for $34,215.

In Pine Grove Township, a 31.5-acre and a 19.2-acre tract will be added to State Game Land #211. The purchases of those lands totaled $72,900.