No antler restrictions for seniors?

Tom VeneskyNo disrespect to Pennsylvania's senior hunters, but I don't believe you should be exempt from antler restrictions.

As some of the most experienced hunters in the state, I have faith that senior hunters are perfectly capable of following the antler restrictions established for the areas they hunt.

Several members of the state Senate, however, feel otherwise. Senate Bill 547 cleared that body’s Game and Fisheries Committee this month and is headed to the floor. The bill exempts senior license holders from antler restrictions, allowing them to shoot a buck under the old provisions ­– two or more points or one antler that is at least 3 inches in length.

Of all the deer hunting regulations that the Pennsylvania Game Commission has passed in recent years, antler restrictions are one rule that, in my opinion, the majority of hunters agree on. It's clear that years of antler restrictions have allowed bucks to grow older and larger.

To allow one segment of hunters an exemption to the current provisions is a step backward. It's basically saying that yes, antler restrictions are important, but not that critical that every group of hunters has to abide by them.

And I'm not really sure that our senior hunters need such consideration. Antler restrictions come in two forms: three points or better on one side (including the brow tine) or "three up" (which eliminates the need to look for a brow tine when three points can be identified on one of the main beams).

If senior hunters are to be expected to determine if one antler is at least 3 inches in length, then it's not too much to ask them to count points.

But what really gets me about SB 547 is why it's even being discussed by the Legislature in the first place. Antler restrictions are a deer management issue and as such it's one that should be handled by the Game Commission board. Sure, the agency has made its share of mistakes over the years when it comes to deer management, but is this really an issue we want our legislators to dictate?

No doubt the bill was in response to complaints that several senators received from constituents about antler restrictions. While the bill may address those complaints, is it really in the best interest of deer management?

I'd rather the Game Commission board make that determination. 

Categories: Pennsylvania – Tom Venesky

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