Pennsylvania pheasant stamp too expensive? Try halving the price for a year and see what happens
In the fall, I am a bowhunter first and foremost. The majority of my time afield is spent in a treestand trying to connect the dots and close the distance on a mature buck.
But even though archery will always take priority, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy getting out for a few hours of small-game hunting whenever I can fit it in.
Such has been the case for many years, when my friends and I would bowhunt the morning and evening of the Saturday pheasant season opener, and sneak out for a few hours of hunting during mid-day. As the proud owner of a hard-working bird dog, I feel I owe it to my 8-year-old pup to get out and hunt her at least a few times per year.
But this year, an alarming realization hit me like a brick wall when I messaged my four buddies via the ongoing text thread we keep running all bow season. It went something like this:
Me: “Anybody wanna try to shoot some birds around mid-day?”
Friend 1: “I would’ve been willing to go, but I don’t have a stamp. Besides, it’s almost worse than trout season out there.”
Friend 2: “I won’t buy a stamp. I only would make it out a couple of times and it’s not worth paying the money. “
Friend 3: “Yeah, thanks for the offer, but I’m in the same boat.”
Friend 4: “(Crickets)”…but at least this guy bought a stamp.
So it ultimately dawned on me that three of my four friends, who otherwise would have gladly hunted with my dog and me, didn’t even purchase stamps and simply quit pheasant hunting. If it weren’t for the stamp, they legally would’ve been able to join me as they have many times in the past for this opening-day tradition.
And it made me think, if I didn’t own my dog, would I have purchased a stamp? Probably not. Do I enjoy pheasant hunting? Yes. Do I need to go every year? No. But I know my dog looks forward to getting out and hunting, so at the time of my license purchase, I didn’t think twice about dropping the extra money for the stamp.
However, this made me wonder how many other hunters outright gave up the sport since the creation of the pheasant stamp. For bird dog owners, it’s a no-brainer to splurge for the dog’s sake, but does the typical everyday brush-buster think that an extra $26.90 on top of the regular adult resident license of $20.90 makes it worth getting out and pursuing a few birds per year? It does seem a bit steep.
By the looks of things, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has made extra efforts this year to market the pheasant program so it appeals to more hunters. My recommendation would be to consider lowering the cost of the pheasant stamp next year.
It may be a case of “less is more,” where a lower price might be more attractive to hunters and more would be willing to participate, therefore negating the need to charge so much.
Perhaps more hunters purchasing the stamp would match the revenue of the few who pay the higher price under the current setup. It’s something to consider. Try halving the price for a year and see if it doubles the participation. Maybe I’ll even get my mid-day hunting buddies back.
By the way, if anyone cares to know, my dog flushed one rooster and I missed. I could’ve used some backup.