Hunters should support a license fee increase in Pennsylvania
Though I wasn’t paying for it at the time (thanks Dad), I vividly remember the last license fee increase for Pennsylvania hunters. The year was 1999, and I remember it so well, because at age 15, I was eligible for the first-ever Junior Combo license offered by the PGC.
My dad and I viewed it as a great deal, because I received archery, muzzleloader, furtaking and general hunting licenses bundled into one awesome package for a discounted rate.
We bought our licenses at Buddy’s Sport Shop in Pine Grove- a place that no longer exists, and I remember pesting for a new pack of broadheads too. Later that year, I went on to arrow my first archery doe on November 13th, and then I shot my first buck with my brother’s borrowed 30.06 in rifle season on December 2nd. It was a good year to be a junior hunter.
The memory is still fresh, but 1999 was a long time ago. I can tell you one thing, though. While proudly signing my shiny metallic-looking license on Buddy’s smoke-stained counter, I felt like I was one of the “real hunters” I had looked up to for so many years. And the last thing on my mind was a license fee increase.
It may have been different for my father, who shelled out the cash. If he had any qualms, though, he kept them to himself. Perhaps he didn’t mind paying a little extra to support the lifestyle he enjoyed pursuing and passing on to his sons.
Truth is – it’s somewhat hard to believe we haven’t had another license fee increase over the past 17 years, the longest period our state has gone without an increase since the Great Depression era.
And now the agency responsible for managing, protecting, promoting, and preserving the outdoor lifestyle I’ve grown to love is under duress due to a lack of available funds. The cost of everything else in life has increased, so why not support an initiative that could bolster the PGC’s functionality?
After begging for a fee increase annually for the past several years, some members in state Legislature finally made a move to do something about the financial issues the commission faces.
It’s sad that longtime Game Commission employees had to be furloughed, retirement positions went unfilled, a wildlife conservation officer class was postponed, and both Howard Nursery and Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area were threatened to close in order to get a fee increase proposal sponsored by the Legislature.
Regardless, a bill has finally been introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate that would increase the fee for a resident general hunting or furtaker license by $10, from $19 to $29. Fees for a number of other resident and nonresident licenses, including bear, antlerless deer and archery licenses, also would be increased if the bill becomes law.
Additionally, the bill would create a new combination license called the Ultimate Outdoorsman, for which residents paying the $110 fee would receive their general license, furtaker license, archery license, muzzleloader license, bear license, special wild turkey license and migratory game bird license for $38 less than if they purchased all those licenses separately.
Of course, there will be those who gripe – likely, the same hunters who feel the commission is ruining hunting in our state – those who say there aren’t any deer left to hunt, antler restrictions are absurd and archery hunters get an unfair advantage.
Sure, some will quit hunting out of spite… But the “real hunters” who are going to purchase a Pennsylvania hunting license regardless of the price – those who see the value of investing in our wildlife’s future – will embrace the fee increase with open arms.
If the bill passes, which I hope it does, I’ll be paying for my own combo license this time – and I hope to have just as good a season as I did in 1999.