shotgun deer hunter

A Pennsylvania deer hunter takes aim with a shotgun.

With Sunday hunting and additional days for hunting deer, bears and small game, the 2020-21 hunting season in Pennsylvania will have many new twists.

And that's just looking at the changes approved by the state Game Commission at its annual seasons and bag limits meeting.

There still could be plenty more wrinkles for this fall if the agency moves forward with its aggressive Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan. But we don't know yet exactly what changes that plan might require.

Regarding the changes we already know are coming, I had asked readers a couple weeks ago to tell me what they think.

The most common issues raised were the additional opportunities afforded to archery deer hunters; the Saturday opener of the firearms deer season; and the addition of three Sunday hunting opportunities.

ARCHERY DEER EXTENSION

For many years, bowhunters have enjoyed a six-week archery deer season that roughly ended around mid November.

For this fall, the Game Commission has added a seventh week, running through Nov. 20.

"Well, the PGC has done it again," wrote Galen Kauffman of Parkesburg.

"Giving archery hunters another week and thereby lessening even more my chances of bagging a buck as a gun hunter. Their 'deer management' has greatly reduced my interest in hunting over the last several years, and this is the final straw. For the first time in 51 years, I will not be buying a hunting license this year."

Gene Melocheck had a novel idea.

"As a gun hunter only, for the deer season, to be fair to the gun hunters, I suggest that the game commission should coincide the last week of bow season with the first week of the gun season," he wrote.

"That way, all deer hunters have a chance to hunt during the best week of the rut! That way we all have an equal opportunity for a chance to harvest a wall hanger!"

Richard Keen offered another suggestion.

"Seems like bowhunters want it all," he wrote. "Maybe they should be given six months to hunt - September 1 to March 1,only with stipulations.

"No Tree Stands. Hunting permitted only with long bows and recurve bows. Pin sights allowed without range finders.

"The original intent of bowhunting was suppose to be 'primitive,' if I remember correctly."

SATURDAY OPENER

The Game Commission decided to continue this year with opening the firearms deer season on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. For decades, Pennsylvania's season opened on the Monday after the holiday, but the agency changed that to Saturday last season.

Some hunters like the change.

"I like this Saturday and Sunday deer opener," said William Curtis of Lancaster.

"I'm retired, so I can go anytime, but I know many hunters that only have one day a week to hunt."

Others hoped the opener would change back to Monday this year.

"When the opener was on a Monday, it gave people a chance to go up to camp at their leisure," Rich Bogucki wrote.

"To have time to anticipate the hunt. To have some time to reminisce with old friends. Isn’t that what a lot of hunting is all about?"

SUNDAY HUNTING

In accordance with a change in state law last year, the Game Commission this year is allowing deer hunting on Sundays Nov. 15 - archery season - and Nov. 29 - gun season - as well as bear hunting on Sunday, Nov. 22.

Besides the hunting on those dates, hunting on Sundays in Pennsylvania is only allowed for crows, foxes and coyotes.

"The game Commission has really stepped over the line by allowing Sunday hunting," wrote D. David Stoltzfus of Ephrata.

"No I will not be hunting on Sunday. That is family time and my travel day."

Keith Daugherty likes the Sunday hunting options.

"This is something that should have been done before now," he wrote.

"The population of the deer herd is out of control where I live in northwest Pa...Hopefully hunting on Sundays will make a change to the population of the deer and put more hunters in the woods."

Tom Kelly sees all the changes to expand deer hunting and simply wonders if it's sustainable.

"Very disappointing," he wrote.

"We need to go back to the old format - two weeks of buck; keep the point restrictions; and three days of doe....

"The deer population seems to be very low in my area of Erie county...Most of us do not even get doe permits anymore in hopes we'll get the population back a bit.

"What kid is going to want to get into hunting so they can sit in a stand all day to see one deer? I am in my 40's and sick of it."


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