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Tradition or Time for a Change?

OUTDOORS WITH JAKE

There is a big question floating around the rank and file of Pennsylvania Sportsman. It has to do with deer hunting and the changing of a long standing tradition. This possible change has me thinking about my childhood and what I call tradition. Should tradition supersede everything for the sake of tradition or should something be changed for the right reason despite tradition? It sounds deep, but think about it.

Some people believe in keeping things the way they are because it’s the way it has always been. I see arguments on both sides because I have my own traditions that I’m not ready to put on the back burner. But I am not afraid of change either.

The burning question has to deal with the opening day of the Pennsylvania rifle deer season. Many changes have taken place in recent history especially the ones concerning when antlerless deer should be harvested and how many. But to the best of my knowledge, this could be the first big move to change the starting day of the rifle season from the Monday after Thanksgiving to the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

This is the news release I received from our local state representative. It was written on February 8th:State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, today introduced legislation (H.B. 566) that would move the first day of antlered rifle deer season in Pennsylvania from the Monday following Thanksgiving to the Saturday following Thanksgiving.

"Hunting is a wonderful tradition in this Commonwealth," Mullery said. "Changing the opening day to a Saturday would provide all hunters with a greater opportunity to enjoy this tradition."

Mullery, a member of the House Game and Fisheries Committee, was approached by several constituents requesting the change. One provided him with a petition signed by more than 100 outdoorsmen.

"The ever-increasing demands facing our resident hunters often results in their inability to miss the first day of hunting season," Mullery said. "For many hunters, taking a day off from work creates further financial burden during these difficult economic times. "Representative Mullery now has a petition on his congressional web page. You can find it at http://www.pahouse.com/Mullery.Like I said earlier in the article, I’m not afraid of change however based on the public response to this introduced legislation, many people are. The state of New York recently changed their opening day of the deer season from the Monday before Thanksgiving to the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The difference is that New York allows Sunday hunting and this change automatically added two extra days of hunting and both of which were weekend days. I for one can hunt two days in New York without taking a vacation day. I like that!

Most of the people in favor of the change are also pointing out that school students would get an extra day of hunting if the schools continue to give them off the buck day. However it could allow schools to take back the buck day (Monday) they traditionally get off from school for deer hunting. I have heard from people who would like it to stay the way it is. Some believe that the tradition of deer camps and a weekend of bonding are as important as the hunt itself. They want to pass down the tradition of sighting in their rifles over the weekend and hanging out with other members.

I don’t belong to a Pennsylvania deer camp so that entire tradition has passed me by. I do enjoy deer hunting and I would welcome an extra day in the field. I do think of the young hunters and how they could start their own tradition of heading to camp after the Thanksgiving turkey and spend a long weekend.

A few hunters are trying to turn this into a stage for discussion about antlerless deer seasons and harvest allotments, I will not get involved. That is better left to the biologists and their research. This discussion should not only be about the change of a day on the calendar and the changing of a long standing tradition. It should be about the increased possible hunting opportunities for license buying sportsmen. It should be looked at through the eyes of the Game Commission as to whether they can afford to patrol an extra day of the hunting season. Last but not least, remember it is still up for discussion. Your opinions do matter so don’t be afraid to voice them. Get in touch with your local Representative and let them know how you want them to vote.

Change is hard but sometimes necessary. Remember to speak up. Is it worth keeping a tradition or is it time for a change? The both possibilities are worth exploring.

Be sure to watch Pennsylvania Outdoor Life tonight at 6:30 on WNEP-TV. We will take you to Susquehanna County as the researchers continue to trap and tag deer. Watch as Eric Perlock of West Wyoming dives into a cage to wrestle down a whitetail. It is an exciting story. We will also fill you in on the grand prize we will award at this year’s Pennsylvania Outdoor Life Expo. Have a great day! Still Time to Buy a Second Tag!

Pennsylvania hunters who would like the opportunity to harvest a second spring gobbler can purchase a second spring gobbler tag until the spring gobbler season begins on April 30. This can be done on the Pennsylvania Automated License System (PALS) by going to the Game Commission homepage at www.pgc.state.pa.us. I have followed this process before and it is easy. You can also purchase a second spring gobbler tag at any issuing agent. The 2011 spring gobbler season is set to run from Saturday, April 30, 2011to Tuesday, May 31, 2011.

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