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Other hunting changes you need to know

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    From left, George, Landon and Keith Yerusavage enjoy the benefits of three-generation hunting, especially mentoring youth. George lives in Auburn, while Landon and Keith are from Minersville. LISA PRICE/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

Published February 09. 2019 12:09AM

Moving the opening day for the firearms deer season to Saturday, from the traditional Monday after Thanksgiving, is a huge change the Pennsylvania Game Commission board of directors announced last week.

That move got all the attention; but there are other dates and changes hunters need to know:

The firearms deer season will be a split, six-day antlered deer season (Nov. 30-Dec. 6) and seven-day concurrent season (Dec. 7-14) in 20 Wildlife Management Units. The list includes WMUs 1A, 1B, 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E, 5A and 5B. The package also retains the full-season (Nov. 30-Dec. 14) concurrent, antlered and antlerless deer season in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D.

Another proposal that initially escaped public outcry is that the board of commissioners announced it will entertain a proposal to allow semi-automatic rifles for big game. Last season was the first that Pennsylvania permitted semi-automatic shotguns for big-game hunting and semi-automatic rifles for hunting small game and furbearers. On Feb. 1, the PGC decided not to consider that change at this time.

In many WMUs, black bear will also be legal game on opening day of the firearms deer season. Black bear hunting in WMUs 1B, 2C, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 5A will be open November 30 through Dec. 7.

The mid-October muzzleloader (Oct. 19-26) and special firearms deer season (Oct. 24-26) will include bear hunting, statewide. The special firearms deer season is for junior and senior license holders, mentored youth permit holders, disabled persons with a permit to use a vehicle, hunters 65 (during the year of application) and older, and Pennsylvania residents serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Services. During both those seasons, which are antlerless only, hunters must have the required antlerless license.

The statewide archery bear season will follow the mid-October muzzleloader and special firearms deer season, and the length of that statewide archery bear season will be two weeks, Oct. 28 to Nov. 9.

A September archery bear season will be established.

In most wildlife management units, the four-day extended bear season will be further extended to six days. Although opportunities for bear hunting have been expanded, hunters may only harvest one black bear.

Since the firearms deer season will start Saturday, Nov. 30, the fall turkey season will end on Friday, Nov. 29. In WMUs 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4C, 4D and 4E, the season would be Nov. 2-16 and Nov. 28 and 29.

For those lucky enough to draw an elk tag, there will be a September archery season and a January antlerless season.

Bobcat hunting and trapping will be expanded to include WMU 4B.

Fisher trapping will be expanded to WMU 4A.

The season limit on beavers will be increased from 20 to 40 in WMUs 2A and 2B.

The porcupine season will be reduced by about 10 weeks, statewide.

The mentored youth and mentored adult hunting programs would expand. 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.

Do you feel strongly about the change in the deer season opening day, or about other proposed changes? You can offer public comment on all proposed season dates and bag limits between now and the PGC and reducing the length of the porcupine season by about 10 weeks statewide.

The public may offer comments on all proposed 2019-20 seasons and bag limits, as well as other board actions, between now and the board of director’s next quarterly meeting, to be held April 8 and 9 at the PGC Harrisburg headquarters. To make public comments, send an email to pgccomments@pa.gov.

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