Pennsylvania moves up opening day for deer rifle hunting season


SUSQUEHANNA TWP., Pa. (WHTM) — There’s big news from the Pennsylvania Game Commission — hunters will have an extra day to get out in the woods during deer rifle season. It’s been the center of debate lately.

This ends a 55-year tradition. Not everyone is happy about the change, but the Game Commission hopes it will encourage more hunters to participate.

Tuesday morning, commissioners voted to change tradition and move opening day of the hunting season from Monday to the Saturday following Thanksgiving. It’s a change from 12 to 13 days of deer rifle season in Pennsylvania.

“There are probably few people out there who are able to participate in a Monday opener that won’t be able to participate in a Saturday opener,” said Game Commission Spokesman Travis Lau.

He said the change could bring more participation, especially by younger hunters in high school and college.

Kurt Green, with Staudt’s Gun Shop, agrees.

“It gives people an opportunity to get out in the woods, maybe an opportunity they wouldn’t have on a weekday,” he said. “Definitely a good opportunity for families, people with younger children who may be in school to get out, experience this sport.”

Others feel that tradition is more important, and adding a change would disrupt the Thanksgiving holiday and hurt travel and preparation time.

Commissioner James Daley made an amendment to keep the opening day on a Monday, but it failed by a 5-3 vote.

“I guess that that’s reflective of the hunting community at large, where there’s a difference of opinion and there are people that are strongly for and strongly against moving that opening day,” Lau said. “Our commissioners, they echoed that.”

It’s good for business at Staudt’s but Green said it’s also good for the state.

“The more support we have for the sport, the more it can continue to thrive. Pennsylvania’s a very, very healthy state for hunters and by giving us more opportunity to be in the woods, I think it helps people be involved in the sport.”

In the coming year, the Game Commission will track the response to a Saturday opener through license sales, deer harvest and comments about the change.

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