Washington County Sportsmen and Conservation League

©1998 Washington County Sportsmen and Conservation League

Member Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs

Affiliated with The National Rifle Association of America

December 2019 Newsletter

The major topic of discussion at the December meeting was the perceived low number of deer hunters on the Saturday opening of the rifle deer season and the bill that will allow hunting on 3 Sundays next year. Everyone at the meeting, including Dan Sitler, reported hearing fewer shots on opening day this year. As I recall the same was reported last year and the year before. Dan saw more hunters out on the second Saturday and most guys I talked to also heard more shots on the second Saturday.

I checked the records to see if the harvest rate has been declining as much as the number of shots heard on opening day. The total statewide deer harvest from 2014 to 2018 (last 5 years) increased annually from 304,000 in 2014 to 374,000 in 2018. Over the same time period the total deer harvest in WMU 2A, in thousands, starting in the year 2014 and ending in 2018 were: 14.7, 17.0, 16.2, 17.0, and 16.9. In WMU 2B the numbers are: 17.3, 20.2, 19.8, 18.5, and 17.0. The buck to doe ratio was about the same from year to year in both WMUs. It appears to me that in our area the harvest rate has been pretty stable. I don't have the data on the harvest numbers for archery, muzzle loader, and rifle so I can't tell if the archery and muzzle loader hunters are why we are hearing fewer shots.

We talked a lot about the Sunday hunting bill. The bill had to be amended before the Farm Bureau would agree to support it. Their amendment increased the penalty for trespass and will require anyone hunting on private land on Sunday to have written permission from the land owner. The Game Wardens will be required to enforce this, but written permission won't be required on Monday through Saturday. The Governor signed the "purple paint" bill. This bill allows landowners to mark their property boundary by painting a purple stripe, 1" wide and 8" long on a post or tree 3 to 5 feet above the ground spaced every 100 feet. I guess the reasoning is that paint is cheaper than signs and can't be ripped off of trees or posts.

Four other good bills have passed the House and await Senate approval. One will require schools to provide facilities for hunter safety courses when requested by the Game Commission. Another would lower the cost of hunting licenses to $1 for hunter safety instructors. Another good bill would allow the Fish Commission to use funds from the Lake Erie and Trout stamps to be used for things other than just public access. The last good bill would allow all license agents to sell doe licenses at the time you buy your annual hunting license. Unfortunately, the Senate will be in session only one more day this year, Dec. 18th; they have a tough work schedule.

Bear hunters had a banner year this year. With 5 days left to hunt in some WMUs the preliminary harvest was set at 4,577. In only two other years, 2005 and 2011, has the harvest exceeded 4,000. This will be a record year. There are several reasons for the big increase; longer season, including 4 more Saturdays, 30,000 more licenses sold, and the archery and muzzle loader hunters harvested over 1,300.

The Senate recently confirmed the nomination of a new PGC Commissioner, for Dist. 1 (North west counties) ; Kristen Schnepp-Giger. She was a wildlife biologist for the NWTF since 2011 and lives in Warren.

The next meeting will be Thursday, January 2nd

Wishing You all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,