An appalling proposal from the Pennsylvania Game Commission
Here we go once again. A proposal by the Pennsylvania Game Commission regarding the after Christmas hunting season for anterless deer in wildlife management units 2B, 5C and 5D has been made available for public viewing.
The newest proposal for these units states that the after-Christmas deer hunting season – which currently allows for restricted firearm types in certain counties (Philadelphia areas, and basically lower southeastern and southwestern portions of the state), but not the remaining areas and counties of these units – would now allow for the use of any regular deer season firearm (rifles) in the entire expanse of these units when shooting an anterless whitetail.
This proposed regulation change is nothing more than a rehashing of a regulation that was in place a few years back. It’s just as crazy now as it was back then, maybe even more so.
There are varied reasons for the Game Commission to simply remove this proposal, but the most basic ones concern safety.
In the southeastern portion of the state, the after-Christmas period is when the majority of the Atlantic Population of Canada geese migrate into the area. Goose hunters are out, their decoy spreads placed in the harvested grain fields that are numerous in this area of the state. The hunters themselves lay on ground fully camouflaged and well hidden from the alert and probing eyes of the big honkers. With the new proposal, this type of waterfowl hunting becomes a serious situation, ripe with possible grave consequences, and here’s an example of that possible outcome.
When this “any gun you choose for deer” after Christmas regulation was in place years back, friends and I lay in a corn stubble field surrounded by Canada goose decoys. We had ground level blinds that we covered with available corn stalks and leaves to perfectly blend in with the area. Waiting and watching for any sign of geese, rifle shots rang out behind us. In another field adjacent to the one we were hunting we could see three does streaking across the field heading for safety. Hunters in orange, standing along a fencerow, were firing in rapid succession. Their line of fire was directly at us for a few moments, and some bullets whizzed over our spot.
If that’s not dangerous, I have no idea what is.
Then there is small-game season. A friend reminded me that there is always the problem of hunting with a dog, especially a trailing hound, when small-game hunting with rifle hunters looking for deer after Christmas.
Often, beagles circling rabbits have pushed deer from the route of their chase. In fact, we’ve often seen them head out as a dog passes them by. And although the dogs were circling a rabbit and never trailed deer, their sometimes long circle could put them near a positioned rifle hunter who may have seen the fleeing deer and assume the dog is chasing the deer. In a moment of frustration, the hunter might shoot the dog. I cannot imagine how that would end if a deer hunter shot a dog we were hunting with.
Even the act of small-game hunting with nearby rifle deer hunters seems dangerous.
And then there is the flintlock season. Friends and I who love flintlock hunting, ceased that type hunting when this rifle season for all of the areas for these wildlife management units was in place in the past. When that regulation ended, we were back at it.
One must understand that flintlock season is a camouflage season to begin with. It’s hard enough to shoot deer with a flintlock for varied reasons, such as getting the quarry standing at a close distance for a good shot, the ever-present possibility of a misfire with this type of gun from moisture hindrance, bad flint, etc. The thought of orange-clad hunters equipped with a rifle, hunting and shooting at does where we are using a flintlock rifle, hiding in camo, is crazy, and would once again ruin the flintlock season for those who enjoy its challenge.
As more and more homes are built in these areas where the Game Commission has proposed for an increase in rifle hunting after Christmas, two weeks of concurrent rifle season during the regular rifle season are enough, because there are plenty of instances already where stay bullets have entered homes and flown across busy highways.
I understand this is not a statewide problem, but it sure is where these areas are located in these Special Regulation units. I also understand how these proposals spring up in the first place, This one reeks of someone, somewhere — either related to Game Commission decision maker or having their ear — believing it would be a lot easier for them to shoot more does after Christmas if they could once again use a rifle, rather than working hard with bow and arrow or flintlock.
I urge every waterfowl hunter, small-game hunter, serious flintlock hunter and even rifle hunter who understands this proposal is just plain dangerous, driven by greed and simply unneeded, to contact the Game Commission and let their voice be heard in opposition to this plan.