While the close of the firearm deer season means an end to hunting for many, the 2018-19 hunting license year is still in effect through June 30. So forget about hanging up your gear; as there are still plenty of opportunities to keep you afield.
Every year, the Pennsylvania Game Commission continues to adjust or add more seasons to the many already available. When you look at what’s on the agenda for this year’s meeting for proposals, there’s sure to be something to each hunter’s liking.
Changes may garner approval in January, then final adoption in April at the Harrisburg meetings. Changes could be coming once the board and biologists outline and tweak some of what has been proposed for 2019-20.
Of course, the main topics to be considered are those pertaining to elk, black bear and whitetail seasons. Most who follow the elk hunt know that consideration has been given to changing the way the elk hunt is run, probably by breaking it down to be held as three different hunts. First, the commission will maintain the traditional November hunt, but then adding an archery-only season for bulls and cows the final two weeks of September and an antlerless-only season for hunters using all kinds of weapons in December or January.
Then there’s Pennsylvania’s large and sometimes problematic black bear population. Some consideration is being given to offer an opportunity for muzzleloader hunters. By adding bears to the menu for the week during the week to coincide with the inline muzzleloader and the three day senior–junior rifle doe seasons. That’s contingent on the archery bear season getting switched to mid-October during the early antlerless season.
With the mention of deer, we all know they always garner a bit of attention each year. The commission board is considering having the opener switched from Monday to a Saturday. That’s something that may put more hunters in the field as more people are likely to be off work, along with students being off from school and college so families could hunt together.
Then there’s always a few possible other changes that may be coming for hunters and trappers, such as the adding of another wildlife unit for bobcat hunting and trapping, and possibly one more also to take in the expanding fisher population.
And one other change that may come down the road, if not next fall then maybe soon thereafter, is the idea of limiting fall turkey hunting to shotguns only. For the last several years, hunters have been able to use rifles, but Dennis Fredericks of Washington County thinks it would good for safety purposes.
Last but not least is the idea on the table of what to do about the failing population of Pennsylvania’s grouse. The grouse population has been in steep decline for several years due to West Nile virus. Board president Tim Layton of Somerset County asked if it might be time to eliminate all grouse hunting for the short term, but other options will be discussed first in January. Those options include: leave the seasons as it is, but reduce the daily bag limit to one, or possibly shortening the season.