Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Will disillusioned hunters show up?

By Jeff


Harrisburg — Given the level of deer-hunter dissatisfaction in
parts of this state, you would expect the public comment period
before the Jan. 21-23 Pennsylvania Game Commission meeting to be a
real barnburner.

You might be surprised.

“I’m really not expecting a huge turnout for this meeting,” said
commission President Tom Boop, of Union County. “It’s true there
are a lot of angry, dissatisfied deer hunters – at least those who
hunt in the northcentral part of the state – but they are
frustrated and thoroughly disillusioned.

“By now they are convinced that commissioners are not listening
to them,” Boop added. “I am hoping that the turnout is good, but I
wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not.”

A few years ago, when the results of the Game Commission’s deer
herd-reduction program first became apparent with many fewer deer
in the northern tier, hundreds of angry hunters attended the
raucous Sunday public commentary sessions of the January meetings,
when seasons and bag limits are set for the following year.

They testified by the dozens against commission policies, but
their pleas to cut back on deer seasons and does permits fell on
deaf ears, according to Greg Levengood, chairman of the Unified
Sportsmen of Pennsylvania, a group that opposes the agency’s
deer-management program.

“Hunters are frustrated and feel helpless,” he said. “They feel
like the Game Commission is going to stay the course with DCNR’s
(state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’) Deer
Management Plan, regardless of what they say or do.

“They figure, why travel to a Game Commission meeting to voice
their concerns when they will only fall on deaf ears anyway,”
Levengood added. “They may as well stay at home and watch football.
Consequently, hunters are turning to their legislators for

Surprisingly, one commissioner who Levengood and others contend
has ignored dissatisfied deer hunters, Russ Schleiden, of Centre
County, claims he enjoys the January meetings.

“The January meeting is the exciting meeting from the standpoint
of the things that go on,” he said recently. “We have that extra
day on Sunday to allow sportsmen to come in and testify without
taking a day off work. I look forward to that.

“Some hunters don’t realize we are not ignoring them,” Schleiden
added. “All I want to do is the right thing as a commissioner, to
balance the deer and the habitat. We are doing the best that we

Other commissioners apparently don’t feel the same way about
facing the throngs of angry hunters. At a public comment session
last year that was not well attended, Commis-sioner Roxane Palone
infuriated some sportsmen by admitting that “it’s a little bit
refreshing” not to have so many disgruntled hunters at the
commission meetings.

It is statements like that one that have resulted in Palone
being branded a “polarizing figure” by other commissioners opposed
to her being president of the agency’s board.

The Jan. 21-23 meeting will be held in the auditorium of the
agency’s Harrisburg headquarters at 2001 Elmerton Ave., just off
the Progress Avenue exit of Interstate 81 in Harrisburg. The agency
promises that a copy of the agenda for the meeting will be posted
on its Web site the week of Jan. 15.

On Sunday, Jan. 21, beginning at 1 p.m., the board will hear
public recommendations for 2007-08 hunting and furtaking seasons
and bag limits. Doors will open at noon. Individuals interested in
offering public testimony – limited to five minutes – may begin to
register at noon on a first-come, first-to-speak basis.

On Monday, the board will gather any additional public comments
and hear Game Commission staff reports beginning at 8:30 a.m. Doors
open at 7:45 a.m. Registration for those interested in offering
public testimony will begin at that time.

On Tuesday, Jan. 23, beginning at 8:30 a.m., the commission will
take up its prepared agenda to give preliminary approval to hunting
and trapping seasons and bag limits for 2007-08.

Doors open at 7:45 a.m. Antlerless deer license allocations for
the 2007-08 seasons will be presented for the board to consider at
its meeting in April. Harvest results from the 2006-07 deer seasons
will be announced in mid-March.

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