Correcting a false impression from an earlier post

Buck Steffe

Back in late January I posted a blog in relation to my concerns about the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s plan to make a regulatory change to the after Christmas season for anterless deer in wildlife Units 2B and 5C. It was also published in Pennsylvania Outdoor News under the “Commentary” section.

Since that time, when readers have had the chance to digest my words, there have been a few “Letters to the Editor” responses reflecting their thoughts on my topic. While I judge all the letters as thoughtful and attentive, some of them missed the point I was making. I’ll try to explain it better here.

Within these units, plus unit 5D, are “Special Regulation Areas”. These areas contain certain regulations that limits the type of hunting tools allowed for hunting, basically stating that no center fire rifles are allowed. Essentially, these regulations are pointed toward deer hunting in these areas, their purpose being to avoid rifle fire in highly developed areas.

Within the units of 2B and 5C are areas that do not fall under these special regulations, meaning rifle usage is allowed for deer hunting. The entire area of 5D falls under the “Special Regulations Area“, so that area is not of concern for using rifles to hunt deer. But in 2B, parts of the counties of Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland, and parts of the counties of Berks, Lehigh, and Northampton in 5C, center fire rifles are allowed for deer hunting.

The areas of those counties named above follow the statewide regulation of a two-week season for the rifle hunting of deer. The basic difference compared to much of the state is a concurrent season for both anterless and antlered deer during this two-week period in 2B and 5C.

The regulatory change the Game Commission has proposed, the one I totally dislike, in essence allows for an additional month following Christmas, of rifle usage for anterless deer in those areas of 2B and 5C where a two-week rifle/regular season has just recently ended. Some readers mistook the position I was attempting to take concerning this regulatory change to mean that I was reflecting on current hunting tools (guns particularly) allowed within the “Special Regulation Area” and perhaps possible changes of ammo and guns types within those areas.

That is not the case. I was only referring to those areas where rifles are currently allowed for two weeks only, and offered no thoughts on the “Special Regulation Areas” specifically.

I gave some examples in the blog and commentary as to why I considered the regulation change to be a bad idea, but allow me to further explain my most worrisome concern.

Where I live in Berks County, is an area that allows for the two weeks of normal rifle season. In the past, the current proposed regulation change was actually a regulation in place before it was abandoned.

The specific area surrounding my home is an area of rich fertile land where farmers raise crops of corn, soybean, barley, rye and wheat. It is also an area with small wood patches scattered about, patches large enough to hide deer.

This is also an area where the Atlantic Population of Canada geese migrate through, filling themselves with the spilled grain left in the big harvested grain fields. The hunting season’s for these migrants usually runs for about 10 days prior to the rifle season, closes during the rifle season, and then reopens after the gun season, running well into January for an additional time period. (Because of the Atlantic Population’s decline in numbers, there will be a reduced amount of days available to hunt this coming season.)

Goose hunting here is popular, as one could assume, and I myself enjoy these outings for the big fowl. Many hunters set their decoy spreads locally, hiding well camouflaged near those spreads, and the after-Christmas period is when they hunt these migrants most often, because this is simply the phase when the most geese are passing through.

Years past, on one particular morning when the rifle season for anterless deer was extended after Christmas, some hunting companions and I were busy setting a big decoy spread in the darkness before light. When legal light came, we were well hidden in ground blinds, waiting for the first flights of geese to come.

At legal time, but before any geese flew, rifle shots rang out behind us. On another property, along the edge of a woodlot, three deer had broken across an adjoining open field and a pair of hunters with orange coverings were blasting away at the fleeing quarry. A couple of bullets buzzed over our spread — and us — as the deer swept past the line of fire in which we were laying.

To the deer hunters, if they saw us at all, they saw us as merely geese feeding in an adjoining field, something that was not unusual. We were lucky, the bullets whizzed past, and no one was hit.

To the point of my blog and commentary, it is the safety of extended rifle hunting for does that worries me. This entire reach of southeast and southwest Pennsylvania land that the Game Commission plans to open once again for additional rifle hunting is ever increasing in development and roads. Years ago, when this regulation was in place, development was thoroughly plentiful. It is certainly much more urbanized now, making two weeks risky enough. The four additional weeks being planned — simply idiotic.

Of course it now seems a moot point, as the Game Commission board has already passed this change of regulation. So, I’m just hoping for the best that can happen — that no one is shot, no home or moving vehicle is hit, and hunting does not take another blow to its image.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Pennsylvania – Ron Steffe, Whitetail Deer

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