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Some fluorescent orange requirements may change

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    Jamie the German shorthaired pointer stands out amid the foliage with his blaze orange vest. LISA PRICE/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

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    P.S. Brixton the Brittany blends in with his surroundings. LISA PRICE/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

Published February 15. 2019 10:18PM


During their meeting in late January, the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners preliminarily approved a change to fluorescent (blaze) orange requirements. If approved, the change would mean that hunters would not have to wear blaze orange while archery hunting for deer or bear. This would eliminate all overlap periods when archery hunters are required to wear varying amounts of fluorescent orange while moving or post orange material while in a fixed position. Also, fall turkey hunters would not have to wear blaze orange.

Hunters in deer, bear, elk firearms seasons, small game season, and those hunting coyotes during daylight hours within open deer, bear or elk firearms seasons, would continue with the requirement to wear 250 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange material on the head, chest and back combined, visible from 360 degrees. Woodchuck hunters would still be required to wear a solid orange hat. The requirement to post blaze orange while hunting deer, bear or elk from an enclosed blind would remain.

Also remaining the same is that hunters in seasons for crows, doves, waterfowl, post-Christmas flintlock deer, spring turkeys and furbearers do not have the blaze orange requirement.

Commissioners said the changes are intended to clear up the complexity of existing fluorescent orange requirements, which each year result in a significant number of violations detected by State Game Wardens. I’ve always thought that the regulations were needlessly complicated and would welcome such a change.

How did fluorescent orange become a staple of hunting with a firearm? The color was mentioned in 1960 in a Field & Stream magazine article called “Hunter Orange – Your Shield for Safety” and written by Frank Woolner. Woolner’s brother, Frank, was the information officer for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and he had led a study at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, in 1959.

Orange and other colors, worn as hunting outerwear, were analyzed in different lighting and weather conditions. All in all, there were more than 22,000 “sightings” of other hunters by 526 men. Here’s what they found: reds appeared near black in shadowed areas and disappeared under poor light. Early and late in the day, yellow appeared as off-white. Also, nearly 10 percent of the American male populations have defective color vision that further confuses reds and greens. Blaze orange was deemed the most visible by the widest variety of people, in the widest variety of conditions. Wearing blaze orange became part of Pennsylvania game regulations in 1980.

What are the regulations in other states?

New Jersey: Firearm hunters must wear a cap made of solid daylight fluorescent orange or an outer garment containing at least 200 square inches of fluorescent orange material visible from all sides at all times while engaged in hunting. A camo-orange hat alone is not adequate. This applies to all persons while hunting with a firearm for deer, bear, rabbit, hare, squirrel, coyote, fox, railbirds, and game birds including while in a tree stand. It is mandatory to wear a hunter orange hat when firearm hunting for small game on wildlife management areas stocked with pheasant or quail. All firearm and bow and arrow deer and black bear hunters utilizing a ground blind when a firearm deer season is open concurrently must display 200 square inches of hunter orange atop the blind and visible from all sides or within five feet outside the blind and higher than the blind or at least three feet off the ground, whichever is higher. During these concurrent seasons, bowhunters in tree stands also should consider wearing hunter orange.

New York: New York State law requires hunters age 14 and 15, and their mentors, hunting deer or bear with a gun, to wear fluorescent hunter orange or pink visible from all directions: shirt, jacket, or vest with at least 250 square inches of solid or patterned fluorescent orange or pink (the pattern must be at least 50 percent orange or pink) OR a hat with at least 50% fluorescent orange or pink. All other hunters are not required by law to wear fluorescent orange while hunting in New York. However, it is “highly recommended” that all hunters wear a fluorescent orange hat, vest and/or coat while hunting small game or big game.


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