I always find it more difficult to say the things I mean than the things I don't…W. Somerset Maugham

Recently, I had the pleasure of being a guest at the quarterly board meeting of the Wildlife for Everyone Endowment Foundation (WFEEF).  The meeting was held at the home of board member Jim Eckles of Beaver County, PA.  What a dedicated group!

The purpose of WFEEF is to benefit the birds and mammals of Pennsylvania and their habitats by augmenting and complementing the work of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.  The non-profit organization, headquartered in State College, PA has funded several wildlife projects around the state, including Seedlings for Schools, purchase of land for game lands 93, and improvements to the impoundment at Pymatuning Lake and Middle Creek Visitors Center.

By far, the biggest project the Foundation is tackling is the Wildlife Education and Research Center to be located near State College.  The Center will serve as the keystone in the state for wildlife education and science.  The state-of-the-art Center features a library, theatre, classrooms, biological labs, and interactive exhibits.

According to WFEEF literature, “The Center will be unique in that it will house offices and laboratories for 30 biologists whose research will provide educational opportunities for visitors to learn about the uniqueness of Pennsylvania’s diverse wildlife species that inhabit our state.”

Currently, most of the biologists work out of their homes and have makeshift equipment storage and must use other agencies’ laboratories.   The Center will provide a way for the public to directly access the research findings of the biologists and gain more knowledge about wildlife management.

The Board of WFEEF, through its Capital Campaign, has provided a wonderful opportunity for sportsmen, conservationists and organizations to have their names become a permanent part of Center’s legacy through naming opportunities.  For as little as $5,000, which can be paid in installments, a person or organization can have their name on an office or fireplace, forever linked to wildlife conservation in Pennsylvania.

For example, the Executive Director’s office could be named for the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, designated by a plaque on the wall similar to what Penn State does when it builds new facilities.  It could also be named for a specific sportsmen’s club.  There are also eight other offices that need names.  In my imagination, just off the top of my head, I can picture the Audubon PA, The Wildlife Society, United Bowhunters of PA, Quality Deer Management Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation offices.  The classroom naming opportunity is set at a $15,000 donation.

The lower level of the building will feature an archery/rifle range and a BB gun range, as well as laboratories for educational demonstrations and biological work.  All these can be named for persons or organizations that donate to the Center.

It should be noted that WFEEF makes use of volunteers for much of their work and outreach.  In-kind services such as this related to the building and maintenance of the Center may be credited towards the value of a contribution.

If you or your organization is interested in donating and having your name permanently linked to wildlife conservation, you may contact Jen Zaborney for more information at jen@statestreetstrategies.com or 717-602-1076.  Contributions are tax-deductible as defined by the IRS regulations.

For more information about WFEEF, visit www.wildlifeforeveryone.org or call Peg Hosterman at 814-238-8139. – Roxane Palone

On Tuesday of this week, PA State Representative Mike Hanna,  the minority whip who represents Clinton and a northern portion of Centre County, do what many legislators do who have too much time on their hands.  He wrote a ridiculous memo to his fellow representatives asking them to co-sponsor a micro-managing bill that would amend “the duties of the Pennsylvania Game Commission” and provide “for an Antlerless Deer Harvest Committee”.

The line in the memo that is so goofy is this: “Currently, the PGC determines antlerless deer allocations with minimal public  involvement.”  Where has the good representative been for the past decade? Surely, he is just using that line as political rhetoric.  He certainly can’t really believe in such an absurd statement.

Here is just a partial list of the things the Game Commission does to garner public input into deer management, i.e., doe management:

  1.  A new Facebook page, twitter account, and YouTube pages relating to deer management and that accept comments
  2. A human dimensions person who surveys hunters about their satisfaction with deer management
  3. Past Citizens Advisory Committees on deer management
  4. Deer open houses in each region
  5. A revised deer management plan that solicits comments and ideas from the general public
  6. Commissioners who answer emails, letters, and phone calls in their private residences regarding deer management
  7. Public comment period for all who want to speak before each PGC meeting (expressly forbidden in the state legislature)
  8. PGC website pages describing deer biology and management
  9. A set of deer brochures that informs hunters and others on how the deer herd is managed
  10. Articles in the PA Game News relating to deer management that are subject to hunter scrutiny
  11. A press secretary who keeps the public informed and fields questions on the  website

I’d tell Mike Hanna the same thing I told another representative from northern Pennsylvania, “just because the Game Commission doesn’t agree with you on every facet of deer management doesn’t mean it isn’t listening to you and hunters.”

In order to try and get his way on doe allocations, Hanna wants to establish an Antlerless Deer Harvest Committee that would propose allocations and whatever number they decided would be binding on the PGC.  The obvious question would be “then why do we have deer biologists, or even a Game Commission?”  If they are not respected and listened to, the Game Commission just should abolish their deer biologist positions.

Hanna ends his memo by stating “it is imperative that we ensure that the PGC is serving the interests of our sportsmen … “.  But it was Hanna himself who first led the charge to give virtually all of the Spring Creek/Rockview land, not to the Game or Fish Commission, but to Penn State University to build condos. When sportsmen are not looking, it is he who is not their friend.

It’s the same old story in government.  When one doesn’t want to or know how to lead, the answer is always form another committee. If Hanna is incapable of leading, he needs to get out of the way so that the Game Commission and its biologists can continue to take the lead in managing not only deer and its habitat, but all the birds and mammals in Pennsylvania.

Roxane Palone

Do bear s_ _ t in the woods? Yes, and I’ll prove this often asked question before I’m done.  Since bears were notably absent for all of my adult life and most of every generation before me who I knew in my youth, we could come to the conclusion that bears did not do that in the woods, at least not here in the extreme southwest corner of Pennsylvania.

Long ago they were eradicated by man, though not necessarily intentional.  Humans and black bears never really had the death struggle relationship of say humans and wolves, and to some degree grizzlies, and not even close to the abject hatred between  humans and Tomato Hawk Moths.

We found this bear scat about 25 yards from our home.

No, most of the black bears problems existing here are due to habitat loss. We took the habitat, largely to raise sheep.  We mostly would not have cared if the bear stayed. It was not a malicious act, in fact, if the bear needed it to survive and had the means it would have taken it for itself much in the same manner — with an absence of malice.

Raising sheep and farming in general on small family  farms, even with the hefty support of everyone’s tax dollars through the Farm  Bill, have become largely unprofitable, at least here anyway.   Some of the reasons for the decline in sheep farming include synthetic fibers that do not itch, are not eaten by moths, and are every bit as warm as wool have been developed.  Also, the fact is that about the only people who still eat mutton live in nomadic tribes in the Middle East.  Somehow it seems to absolve them of some blame for making war on the west. Try living on a diet of mainly mutton for a while and see if you don’t develop a bad attitude as well.

So away, for the most part, went the sheep farms.  For a while the landscape was still mowed and remained fenced.  A few cows or horses remained in the fields as the adult children of the past generation kept one foot in the land and the other in a coal mine or steel mill.  But now, the few farms that remain are mostly just for fun or tradition.

Most of that vacant farm land suddenly became regenerated forest, and then some of it mature forest.  Black berries, acorns, road killed creatures of all types, bee hives, left over fast food containers, bird seed, gardens, beech nuts, small orchards and really dumb but often good intentioned humans with wild game feeders hanging in the yards are what you’ll see  now from an aerial view.  It has become the perfect omnivore habitat.


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Anticipation has been building all year.  It’s November and that means the start of firearms buck season.  Buck season?  Yes, for the first time in a decade, Wildlife Management Unit 2A in southwestern Pennsylvania,  will have a 5-day buck season, beginning November 28, followed by a 7-day concurrent buck and doe season.  In sportsmen’s terms, it is known as a split season.

The goal of the game commission’s biologists is to stabilize the herd population in 2A.  But a study done by Dr. Chris Rosenberry, the commission’s chief deer biologist, indicates that WMUs with a split season had a 20 percent reduction in the doe harvest.  In order to compensate for that, the game commission increased the antlerless license allocation in 2A to 65,000, the highest allocation ever in this WMU.

But there is a concern that all the antlerless licenses may not sell out.  In the past decade, WMU 2A has been the last rural WMU to sell-out, indicating that the market is already saturated.  If licenses are not sold and used, and the doe harvest decreases, the result could be an increase in the deer population in 2A.  Overpopulation is always followed by habitat degradation.

Biologists believe it is much easier to grow the deer herd than it is to reduce it.  It generally takes the selling of four antlerless licenses to harvest one doe. In other words, the goal of stabilization may not be met.

In the past, the game commission board stated that a split season would result in hunters seeing more deer.  But Rosenberry’s study concluded that hunters didn’t see more deer and weren’t satisfied with the number of deer they did see.

A bigger concern is hunting opportunity in a split season.  Junior hunters in many schools have the first day of firearms season off, and they take advantage of the concurrent season.  Now, they can only harvest a buck on their day off from school, a restriction they aren’t accustomed to.  By the time the doe season opens on the first Saturday, the pressured deer should be holding tight  and/or completely nocturnal.  So the chances of harvesting a deer are somewhat diminished.  It’s a good thing that luck is also a factor of hunter success.

The concurrent season seems popular with adults too, many of whom have limited days to hunt.  Now, they must remind themselves to not harvest a doe until the first Saturday of the season.  Some non-resident hunters have also expressed disappointment in not being able to harvest a doe on the first day.  Anything that takes away hunter opportunity is not a good regulation.


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Reeling for Healing

Fishing on the Enlow Fork of Wheeling Creek in Pennsylvania

It was the young girl, Anne Frank, who wrote “ The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God.  Only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of Nature.  And I firmly believe that Nature brings solace in all troubles.”

Women who are breast cancer survivors have being doing just that, thanks to the program Casting for Recovery.  The program eases some of their fears by introducing  women to fly-fishing through organized retreats.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness/Action Month, and Casting for Recovery has brought many cancer victims new friends, new experiences, a unique hobby, and most important, hope and support.

Casting offers a 2 1/2 day  supporting and nurturing atmosphere free to participants.  The retreat offers the women a respite from their disease, boosting their confidence. By providing fly-fishing instruction in a positive setting, women can reap both  physical and mental benefits.

The retreat helps participants move forward by providing the latest information on breast cancer among women who have shared the disease.  The program is known for its ability to enhance coping and problem solving skills.

By focusing on wellness and empowerment, the women gain self-esteem, network, make new friends, and learn new skills as a way to focus on and commit to their futures.

Sponsors of the program include The Hartford, L.L. Bean, Under Armour®, Smartwool, and Sisters on the Fly.  According to The Hartford, “In its own quiet way, Casting for Recovery has changed the lives of thousands of women and those who love them.”

Since 1996, retreats have been held in nearly all 50 states in every month of the year.  Each retreat is limited to only 14 participants, so pre-registration is required.  On the first day, each woman meets the staff and other participants and receives all the gear she needs to fly-fish.  During the second day, women learn how to cast, tie knots, and practice casting. They are taught some fish biology as well. Intertwined with fishing instruction are round table discussions about the physical and mental effects  of breast cancer.

Day three is the actual fishing day.   The participants are taken to a stream, and after a demonstration, are  led on a guided catch-and-release fly-fishing adventure.

Ways that you can help are volunteering at an event, donating money or  equipment, or referring a cancer survivor to Casting for Recovery.

One participant feels that “discovering something new is part of  healing”.  No matter what ails you, what  better way to help heal than to go outside and fish for awhile.   –  Roxane Palone

PA Special October Youth Hunts

October is the time for the World Series, football, and trick or treat.  October also presents many opportunities to take the kids outdoors and get them involved in special youth hunts.   The youth squirrel hunt is open October 8 – 14 for junior hunters, ages 12 to 16 without or with a license.  They must have completed a hunter-trapper safety course and be accompanied by an adult.  Mentored youth under the age of twelve can participate after securing a permit from the game commission.  They must be accompanied by a licensed adult at least 21 years of age.  Mentored youth are not required to have a hunter-trapper safety course.

The junior pheasant season and junior cottontail season is October 8 – 15 for kids ages 12 to 16, with or without a license, accompanied by a licensed adult, and having successfully completed a hunter-trapper safety course.  Mentored youth cannot participate in this junior hunt.

October 20 – 22 is the statewide junior antlerless deer season.  Junior hunters are required to have the proper licenses to participate.

Though it didn’t pass in time to be in the “Hunting & Trapping Digest”, mentored youth can harvest an antlerless deer for the first time this year, including the October junior season.  When hunting antlerless deer, the adult mentor must be in possession of a valid antlerless deer license that can be transferred to the youth if he/she harvests an antlerless deer. The field harvest tag is to be completed by the youth and attached to the carcass; however, the reporting of the harvest is to be completed by the adult mentor as if they had harvested the deer.

In addition to squirrels and antlerless deer, mentored youth are permitted to hunt groundhogs, coyotes, and antlered deer.  They can participate in the spring gobbler season but not the fall turkey season.  When hunting antlered deer, a mentored youth can follow the same antler restrictions that junior hunters follow.

The mentored youth must tag and report any antlered deer taken. With the new permit required for participants, mentored youth will now have the field harvest tag that must be attached to any antlered deer harvested.  Also, the youth must report his or her harvest, which can be done online, or by mailing a harvest report card, within five days.  Mentored youth can see a sample carcass tag and use the harvest report card available in the “Hunting & Trapping Digest”.  The mentored youth may not use the mentor’s tags or harvest report cards if the youth harvests an antlered deer.

Even if a child is not ready to hunt yet, he or she can accompany an adult licensed hunter or trapper as an observer.  The child can’t participate in the hunt in any way and must wear the required amount of fluorescent orange.

There are more hunting opportunities for youth than ever before.  The days are still long enough for some groundhog hunting after school. Or go for a few hours on a Saturday. Some people have Columbus Day, October 10, off and that may be a good
day to go hunting with a child.

For more information about seasons and bag limits, or the Mentored Youth Hunting Program, visit www.pgc.state.pa.us and click on “Hunt/Trap”.  Have fun, be safe and enjoy the cooler weather. — Roxane Palone

Isabella Sunday Hunting Testimony

The following is Game Commissioner Greg Isabella’s testimony before the PA House Game & Fisheries Committee on September 15 in Northampton:

SUNDAY HUNTING PRESENTATION

GOOD EVENING MR CHAIRMAN, FELLOW COMMITTEE MEMBERS, THANK YOU FOR ALLOWING ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO PROVIDE WRITTEN TESTIMONY THIS EVENING.  AS A MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF THE PA GAME COMMISSION LET ME OFFER YOU A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON SUNDAY  HUNTING.   FIRST, AS A PA GAME COMMISSIONER REPRESENTING REGION 8 OF SOUTH EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA WHERE A VERY LARGE HUNTING CONSTITUENY  SUPPORTS SUNDAY HUNTING AND SECOND, AS AN AVID HUNTER WHO SUPPORTS SUNDAY HUNTING AND ELIMINATION OF THE ANTIQUATED BLUE LAW.

MY TESTIMONY IS MY OWN OPINION AS A SITTING COMMISSIONER ON THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS, IT IS BY NO MEANS MEANT TO REPRESENT THE ENTIRE BOC.

WHAT CAN I SAY THAT ALREADY HAS NOT BEEN SAID.  THERE HAS BEEN THE LEGISLATIVE BUDGET & FINANCE COMMITTEE REPORT THAT CONCLUDED AN ECONOMIC FINANCIAL WINDFALL TO BUSINESSES AND THE ECONOMY OF PENNSYLVANIA, HAD SUNDAY HUNTING BEEN ENACTED.  THERE IS MUCH DEBATE ON THAT REPORT, BUT I MAKE DECISIONS BASED ON REALISTIC SCENARIOS.  THIS PAST SPRING I COMMUNICATED WITH MR. SCOTT WOJTON  FROM THE LEHIGH VALLEY.   HE PROCEEDED TO TELL ME THAT BECAUSE PENNSYLVANIA DOES NOT HAVE SUNDAY HUNTING, HE HUNTED SPRING GOBBLER SATURDAY & SUNDAY IN NEW YORK STATE,  THEN  TRAVELLED TO PENNSYLVANIA THE DAY AFTER TO ALSO HUNT SPRING TURKEY.  DURING THAT OUT OF STATE VISIT HE AND HIS PARTY SPENT OVER $1000.00 WHICH INCLUDED LICENSE, GAS, MEALS, LODGING & TIPS THAT WENT TO AN OUT OF STATE TREASURY.  HE & FRIENDS ALSO VISITED SEVERAL OTHER STATES WHO HAD SUNDAY HUNTING, THEY ALSO SPENT SEVERAL THOUSAND DOLLARS AND CONTRIBUTED TO AN OUT OF STATE ECONOMY AND THEIR STATE TREASURY.

THE END RESULT, DUE TO OUR ANTIQUATED BLUE LAWS NO MONEY SPENT IN PENNSYLVANIA!!  NO FINANCIAL  BENEFIT TO THE COMMONWEALTH!!!!!


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By Don Heckman, PA Chapter NWTF Executive Officer  

The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) Board of Commissioners adopted Season and Bag Limits regulation changes on April 19, 2011 to go back to traditional opening of the fall turkey hunting season on the last Saturday of October for 2011.  Review your 2011-2012 “PGC Hunting & Trapping Digest” to get the complete list of start and end dates for the Fall 2011 season.

Hen Harvest Rate Study Area 1 and Study Area 2 WMU’s are intact and the study is  currently scheduled to run 3 more years through 2013.  Both short term and long term impacts on the  Hen Harvest Rate Research Study are now back on track for 2011 to be reviewed  yearly so the research study data will not be jeopardized.

With  Fall 2010 turkey hunting season now behind us, the real questions continue to be asked, what fall season framework will be recommended by PGC Bureau of Wildlife Management after the study is completed and research data are fully documented, analyzed, and  reported?  And with or without Thanksgiving Day, Friday, and Saturday  turkey hunting?

That’s one reason PGC is conducting a 4 year hen harvest rate research study. Its research data will provide answers to these questions by acquiring hen harvest rate data under the current fall seasons, then changing fall season lengths during the study to see how harvest rates change in relation to season length.  PGC Commissioners can not be  changing fall turkey hunting season lengths during the course of research  projects.  I believe that reasoning has  now been fully recognized and will continue to be followed throughout the  study.

To  me, that means continuing the traditional 3 weeks, 2 weeks, 1 week, or closed fall turkey seasons according to turkey population trends in each WMU.  With the introduction of turkey management areas (TMAs) in 1981-1983, followed by the new wildlife management unit structure being adopted in 2003, that is 28 years of doing it right by the book, Resource First, wild turkey management.

The 2010 fall turkey hunting seasons were  changed for 2011 reverting back to the traditional structure, except with the  continuation of Thanksgiving Day, Friday, and Saturday.  I believe that  decision to change back to traditional fall seasons was absolutely the correct  decision for Commissioners to get wild turkey management by the book back into the “Management Plan For Wild Turkeys In Pennsylvania”, PAGE ii, EXECUTIVE SUMMARY.

I also firmly believe the larger wild turkey management picture is obtained  through the wild turkey population model by using constant and controlled wildlife management units, actual field data for monitoring population trends, continued updates to current information, charts and graphs, and using all this to document future management planning.

Pennsylvania’s wild turkey management improved immensely from 1958 to present.  I start with 1958 because that is the 50+ years I am familiar with and have been provided invaluable wild turkey management information, articles, and been around long enough to remember my discussions with PGC biologists Roger Latham, Jerry Wunz, Arnie Hayden during the building days, and then Bill Drake, Mary Jo Casalena, and Bob Eriksen up to the completion of the restoration days.

From the mid 1960s to spring 2010 wild turkey state-wide populations, wild turkey management, and turkey hunting opportunities have steadily improved due to PGC professional based management decisions for the wild turkey resource.  Just look at the estimated statewide population density chart from 1960 to 2010 as one of many documented data proofs.  Add in wild turkey harvests, and turkey hunter numbers and you have the basis for the next 40 years of Resource First wild turkey management and not social management.

Wild turkey management decisions and turkey hunting improvements have been well received and well managed in the Commonwealth from spring season 1968 (when spring hunting re-opened) to spring season 2011.  My personal thank you and I would believe a state-wide chorus of thank yous to PGC and its 6 Regions for providing the best wildlife management, wildlife habitat, wildlife protection, information/education, and automated technology services and administrative support they can do.

I personally believe that proof has been well documented and displayed to the public through PGC articles in Game News, “Hunting and Trapping Digest”, News Releases, PGC web site, and many technical presentations.  And I personally have written several articles in “PA Turkey Talk” over the past 10 years detailing the facts that not one PGC state-wide wild turkey management decision can be documented in those 40+ years as providing a negative or disruptive impact on the state-wide wild turkey populations.  NOT ONE!

I tip my camo hat to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, as I have done many times in my 36+ years with the Pennsylvania Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation, for its successful wild turkey management planning and accomplishments.

Now,  just think how much better the future of wild turkey management and turkey  hunting will be in the next 40+ years if the PGC “Management Plan For Wild Turkeys In Pennsylvania” is completely followed and fully funded to provide better and up to date wild turkey management data and information.  This focus is spread across all aspects of wild turkey and wildlife management planning including adequate funding for: improved wildlife habitat management, improving turkey hunting safety education, improving wildlife protection opportunities, and hunter information & education opportunities.


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Marcellus Shale Development and Penn’s Woods

This from the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs:

 

PFSC to Host “Pennsylvania Outdoors in
Focus: Marcellus Shale Development & Penn’s Woods” Forum During September
Convention

 Harrisburg – The Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs (PFSC) will hold their Fall Convention and host the “Pennsylvania Outdoors in Focus: Marcellus Shale Development and Penn’s Woods” Forum September 16-18, 2011 at the Harrisburg Radisson Hotel, 1150 Camp Hill By Pass, Camp Hill, PA.

In partnership with the Keystone Energy Forum, the outdoors forum on the Marcellus Shale development in Penn’s Woods and how it affects our outdoor activities will take place Saturday, September 17th, 2011 at the Harrisburg Radisson Hotel.  The forum gets underway at 9am and wraps up around 3pm.

Featured panel discussions will include:

  • Land Activity – Where is activity taking place and where will it be taking place?
  • Interaction with Marcellus Shale Development – Communicating and working with our regulatory and industry partners as development and growth continues.
  • Impacts on Penn’s Woods – How will drilling affect your outdoor activities?

There will also be a working luncheon where discussions will continue with Natural Resources Consultant James Mosher and  former DCNR Deputy Secretary Jim Grace, who’s now the Maurice K. Goddard Chair in Forestry and Environmental Resource Conservation at Penn State, as guest speakers.

The forum and luncheon are free and open to the public, but preregistration is required.

The mission of Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, Inc. is to provide a statewide, united voice for the concerns of all sportsmen and conservationists; to insure that their rights and interests are protected; and to protect and enhance the environment and our natural resources.


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Sunday hunting in Pennsylvania

Of all the issues related to hunting, Sunday hunting is once again taking center stage.  The Pennsylvania House Game & Fisheries Committee will be holding a public hearing on the controversial topic on September 15 in Northampton.  Invited groups will be testifying before the committee both for and against expanding Sunday hunting.

House members John Evans (R) and Ed Staback (D) have introduced HB 1760 pertaining to Sunday hunting.  This bill would repeal the ban on Sunday hunting that has been the law since 1873.  It would also give authority over Sunday hunting back to the PA Game Commission, where it belongs, as part of its duties to set seasons and bag limits.

Currently, it is legal to hunt only crows, coyotes, and foxes on Sunday.  Some would like to see this expanded to deer firearms season, which includes only one Sunday.  They argue this would generate the sale of more nonresident licenses, get more people to deer camp, and create new jobs and revenue in the state.  Some would like to see groundhog hunting opened on Sundays.

Proponents of Sunday hunting are backed by the Sunday Hunting Coalition, a group of sportsmen’s organizations that are lobbying for the passage of HB 1760.

The main opponents of Sunday hunting are the PA Farm Bureau and the Humane Society of the United States.   The fact that these two groups are on the same side of the issue borders on ridiculous.  The HSUS is adamantly opposed to any type of hunting, fishing, trapping, and livestock farming.  It is the largest animal rights group in the country and has a record of being anti-sportsmen and anti-animal farming.

The Farm Bureau argues that Sunday should be a day of rest, both for landowners and wildlife.  Yet these are some of the same people who visit casinos and gas stations, shop at K-Mart, eat in restaurants, and go to Steelers football games on Sunday.  Apparently, it’s ok for other people to be made to work on Sundays, but not them.

It isn’t up to the Farm Bureau to tell all landowners what they can do on their own properties on Sunday.  If a particular farmer is opposed to Sunday hunting, he should just post his land with signs that state “No Sunday Hunting”.  Regardless of what day of the week it is, hunters should always ask permission of the landowner before hunting on any private land.  The farmer has a right to  say no anytime.

Some outdoor groups are opposed to Sunday hunting on public lands.  They say it interferes with their bird watching and hiking.  Specifically, they want one day a week when they don’t have to fear for their lives.  The truth is, hunting is one the safest  sports we have.  It is only in liberal Hollywood movies that hunters are stupid slobs and drunken outlaws.

Sunday hunting should be allowed on public lands, especially state game lands.  These lands were purchased specifically as public hunting lands and many were paid for by hunters and shooters.

HB 1760 is a good bill.   It puts control of hunting back into the hands of the game commission.  That doesn’t mean that the  commission will immediately open all Sundays to every type of hunting and species.  It only means that it will consider the views of all stakeholders and make thoughtful regulations pertaining to Sunday hunting. That could mean only groundhog hunting or deer hunting for only one Sunday during the entire year.  It is certainly better to allow the game commission to regulate seasons than the entire General Assembly, most of whom don’t hunt at all. — Roxane Palone