Deer season changes fail for lack of support
HARRISBURG - A proposed regulation change that would have added four wildlife management units - including WMU 4E - to the 11 WMUs that have 12 days of concurrent antlered and antlerless deer hunting during the firearms deer season failed to get the support needed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission board of game commissioners at Tuesday's quarterly meeting for the 2013-14 proposed seasons and bag limits at agency headquarters.
Under the current PGC deer-management plan, WMU 4E, which includes Northumberland and Columbia counties and the northern portion of Schuylkill County, is one of the 11 WMUs that have antlered hunting only the first five days of the firearms season, which opens the Monday after Thanksgiving. Concurrent antlered and antlerless hunting opens the first Saturday of the season in these WMUs and continues the second week of the season from Monday-Saturday.
Commissioner Dave Schreffler made the proposal to have WMUs 2G, 4B and 4D join WMU 4E in switching to a 12-day concurrent season. Among those in opposition was commissioner Jay Delaney, who pointed out that antlerless populations in each WMU is controlled by the number of antlerless tags issued and not the number of days open to hunting.
A vote to open 12 days of concurrent hunting in the four WMUs resulted in a 4-4 deadlock, meaning the proposal is not on the agenda when seasons and bag limits are finalized at the Monday, April 15, meeting. A proposal by Schreffler to move WMU 4B to the 11 WMUs with the 12-day concurrent season was defeated 5-3.
While nothing will change for deer hunters who hunt locally, proposed changes for WMUs 2G and 5C passed by unanimous 8-0 votes and are expected to receive final approval at the April meeting. Under the proposals, approximately two-thirds of WMU 2G will become WMU 2H in order to address the need to reduce antlerless allocations and WMU 5C will have rifle - where legal - and shotgun hunting the final two weeks for antlerless hunting only in those counties within the Special Regulation Area.
Approximately two-thirds of WMU 2G, which includes the mountainous, big-timber counties of Center, Clinton, Lycoming, Potter and Tioga, will be designated WMU
2H for antlerless allocations. Meanwhile, the western portion of WMU 2G, which has a larger deer population because of farmland, will receive an antlerless allocation to control the herd.
Failing to gain support by a 4-4 vote was a proposal by commissioner Ron Weaner to have a study done by agency staff for a minimum age for those participating in the Mentored Youth Hunting Program. Pennsylvania was the first state to have such a program, which allows those younger than 12 years of age - the minimum age to take the agency's hunter-trapped education course - to hunt certain species while being mentored by a licensed adult hunter.
Weaner said that he has received complaints from hunters about photos in newspapers showing pre-school-age youth posing with deer that they have shot. While totally supporting the MYHP, he said that at the very least perhaps a minimum age be set to hunt big game.