Rep. offers novel ideas

Harrisburg — A state representative has his eyes on hunters who might be, in a way, stuck in the middle.

Currently, young hunters are considered “juniors” through age 16. That allows them to buy less expensive licenses and affords them special privileges. Everyone 17 and older is considered an adult for licensing purposes.

Is that right?

State Rep. Neal Goodman, of Schuylkill County, isn’t so sure, and has been circulating a memo around the Capitol saying he’s considering sponsoring a bill that would change the rules so that people could remain junior hunters through age 21.

“By expanding eligibility for junior licenses through age 21, I hope to better accommodate those who attend college or trade school, or enter the workforce and find they can only occasionally return home to hunt, often with very limited time.

“I also hope to keep young people vested in the activity of hunting and trapping during a time period in their lives when they are becoming financially independent from their parents,” reads his co-sponsor memo.

It’s true that Pennsylvania would be the first state to offer such a “privilege,” he said. But the state served as a trailblazer once before to good effect, he added.

“Pennsylvania led the nation when we became the first state to offer a mentored hunting program to kids under the age of 12,” he wrote.

“This legislation is intended to build on the progress we’ve made over the years in recruiting new hunters by keeping hunting and trapping affordable for an age group that is vulnerable to abandoning these activities.”

No information on how such a change would impact license sales revenues collected by the Pennsylvania Game Commis­sion was available.

In the meantime, Goodman is looking into sponsoring two other pieces of legislation.

One – an idea that’s been floated by other lawmakers previously, most recently in 2009 – would add a ninth member to the Game Commission board of directors.

Goodman would split the 8th District, which represents Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Delaware, Philadelphia, Schuylkill, Berks, Lehigh and Northampton counties, into pieces.

The eight would continue to represent Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Delaware and Philadelphia counties; the new 9th District would represent Schuylkill, Berks, Lehigh and Northampton.

“At present, District 8 covers 40 percent of the state’s population. The urban to rural demographic is vastly different in terms of habitat management, topography, hunting access, harvest goals, and available wildlife.

“I believe it is nearly impossible to expect one commissioner to adequately represent such a large and diverse district,” he wrote.

The last idea Goodman is looking into regards when hunters could call wild turkey gobblers.

Now, though many veteran turkey hunters preach against the practice, hunters can call turkeys at any time. Goodman says that’s not fair.

“In advance of the spring gobbler season, I feel some hunters take an unfair advantage by regularly calling the birds before the start of the season, thereby ‘educating’ them through repetition,” he wrote.

To prevent that, he’s got a bill in mind that would prohibit turkey calling within 30 days of the season’s start.

Commissioners debated the issue briefly themselves this spring, but the idea never got beyond the discussion stage.

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