Since the Pennsylvania Game Commission changed the annual firearms deer hunting season from the first Monday after Thanksgiving to the first Saturday for the 2020 season, there has been some controversy over the move. As such, and according to the PGC, members of the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners met last week with state House of Representatives Game and Fisheries Committee Majority Chairman Keith Gillespie (R-York) and Minority Chairman Bill Kortz (D-Allegheny) to discuss the Saturday opener to Pennsylvania’s firearms deer season, which the board adopted earlier this month when it set seasons and bag limits for the 2019-20 license year.
Since 1963, Pennsylvania’s firearms deer season consistently has opened the Monday after Thanksgiving, and hunters clearly were split in their support of the change to a Saturday opener. Some who have been unable to hunt on opening day due to work or school commitments strongly supported the change. Some who travel considerable distances to their hunting spots, and now must do so earlier in the holiday weekend, strongly opposed it.
Hunter concerns over moving to a Saturday opener prompted Gillespie and Kortz to meet this week with Tim Layton, the president of the Board of Game Commissioners, and some other board members.
While the 2019 deer season will open on Saturday, Nov. 30, Layton assured the committee chairmen the Board of Commissioners in the coming year will be looking very closely at the potential benefits and drawbacks of a Saturday opener. The commissioners will be looking to see if there’s evidence the Saturday opener increased hunting license sales and hunter success, and looking to gauge the opinions of hunters who will have taken part in the state’s first Saturday opener in decades.
Layton also said that when the Board of Commissioners selects an opening day for the 2020 firearms deer season, it will take all of these findings into consideration to arrive at a decision that clearly provides the most benefit.
“Acting in the interest of the state’s hunters and the future of hunting in Pennsylvania, always are important components to decisions by the Board of Game Commissioners,” Layton said. “The board gave these factors careful consideration before voting to move the opening day of the firearms deer season to Saturday, and in the coming year, we’ll be drilling even deeper to make sure we understand what the majority of hunters want.”
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Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.