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By Larry Keane

Pennsylvania hunters racked up big numbers during the 2020 deer season, packed their meat freezers a little fuller and are already eyeing their calendars for next year.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s trial run of Sunday big game hunting included three weekends in November last year. It was such a success they’re considering more Sunday hunts in 2021 and the 2020 deer harvest numbers show just how big of a boon the extra days were.

Hunters Took Advantage

The coronavirus pandemic led to an unprecedented renaissance for hunters in 2020 heading out to fields and woods for some natural social distancing. In Pennsylvania, that included an experiment for three extra days of big-game hunting on November Sundays. Pennsylvania hunters didn’t miss their shot.

“This year’s Sunday hunting opportunities were extremely popular with our hunters, and they did not see any substantial issues occur on these Sundays,” explained Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans.

Just how “extremely popular” were the extra Sundays outdoors? The 2020 deer season harvest numbers were released and they’re big. Really big. Almost 400,000 big.

In fact, Pennsylvania was one of only three states that harvested more than 300,000 deer and Keystone State hunters blew past that mark by nearly 90,000. When Burhans submitted the PGC annual report to the state’s General Assembly recently, it showed Pennsylvania hunters took advantage of the extra days and they bagged more than 389,000 white-tailed deer.

Even with the significant increase in those heading out to the woods and fields, Pennsylvania hunters did so responsibly, receiving fewer wildlife game violations than all of last year. Burhans praised Pennsylvania hunters.

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(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

“This report also notes that Pennsylvania was second in the nation for antlered deer harvested per square mile, and first in the nation in overall deer harvested per square mile,” Burhans said. “These numbers are a testament to the hunting culture and traditions in our state that remain alive and well, as well as the health and productivity of our deer herd.”

Opening Day Anticipation

 With a healthy deer population waiting and a growing population of hunters continuing or beginning to participate in the great American hunting pastime, 2021’s season is right around the corner. PGC’s Burhans already spoke to the Pennsylvania House Fisheries and Game Committee and proposed expanding Sunday hunting.

“We also would like to build upon the successes of Act 107 of 2019, which provided for three days of hunting on Sundays. This change was implemented in 2020 and was met with great enthusiasm…,” Burhans said. “The Game Commission supports opening additional Sundays to hunting and welcomes the opportunity to work with this Committee to craft legislation giving full authority to the Board of Commissioners to offer additional Sunday hunting opportunities.”

Hunting Pays

More Sunday hunting is good news for Pennsylvania’s hunters and for the Pennsylvania economy. All told the commonwealth is home to nearly 13,500 jobs related to the hunting, firearm and ammunition businesses, the fourth-most of any state. They also accounted for more than $2.2 billion in economic impact, which was good for the seventh-highest among states.

If there were any doubt as to the popularity of hunting remaining high in Pennsylvania leading into next season, PGC Commissioner Travis Lau confirmed the welcomed trend, saying “Sales so far in 2020-21 have exceeded totals for 2019-20.” 

Last year saw a boost to hunting activities in all corners of the country, including hunters of all ages and demographics. The rise in numbers is a great sign for conservation and wildlife management, including in Pennsylvania.

Monies collected from the purchase of hunting licenses and fees, and excise taxes paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers supplying hunters with needed equipment, contribute to wildlife management and conservation project funding through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR). In 2020, that total was $1 billion, $121 million above the 2019 total.

Pennsylvania hunters will no doubt keep their eyes peeled for what the Pennsylvania House Fisheries and Game Committee determines for next year’s hunting calendar, but all signs point to more Sunday hunting. NSSF encourages hunters to recruit new friends and family to come along and join them in the hunting sports through the +ONESM Movement initiative in order to keep hunting traditions alive and well.

 

Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

11 COMMENTS

  1. N DARN BACK HOME 1971 FROM VIETNAM , I COULDN’T DEER HUNT ANY MORE ,
    LIKE THE TASTE OF A FOUR – SIX POINT , DEER . HOWEVER JUST CAN’T SHOOT ONE ANY MORE . DID DO QUAIL N DOVE HUNTING FOR COUPLE YEARS . NOW JUST PAPER TARGETS AT THE AGE OF 71 , DO HAVE LTC . HOPE N PRAY NEVER HAVE TO SHOOT ANY ONE .
    HOME N FAMILY KNOW HAVE TO PROTECT . MY MIND MADE UP ON THAT . THATS ALL I’VE I TO SAY ABOUT DAT.

  2. Please sir, may we have another……… few days of Sunday hunting?

    And if it’s not too much to ask, could we have semi auto hunting?

    Oh, and on a separate topic how about private liquor stores instead of ones run by the state.

    • Well…if Man can go to the Moon? You can buy jn some Supermarkets now.Will it ever be like DE or NJ? We might See a State Weed Store first….

  3. I encourage everyone who has any interest at all in hunting to go for it. Even if it isn’t very enjoyable, it is a good skill to have in case you find yourself struggling to provide food for yourself and your family due to something like, oh I don’t know, a pandemic?

  4. Sunday was the one day each week that I didn’t have to worry about road hunters or spend the day running around our property armed to the teeth kicking people out. They didn’t give out citations, because they weren’t answering calls. There were lazy scumbags everywhere trespassing or driving around our land. Anyone who owns a few acres or more around here has to deal with that crap.

    • NEPAdam,

      Two quick questions:
      1) Did you prominently post your property — no trespassing and no hunting?
      2) Did you put a cable and lock across the entry roads to your property?

      And here is a serious novel idea: allow one or two people of your choosing to hunt your property (in whatever limited fashion that you choose) in exchange for THEM patrolling/guarding your property on Sundays. You may be surprised to find that many people would happily guard your property for you a few days a year in exchange for your permission to hunt your property. Think of it as a mutually beneficial partnership. And you may even gain a new close friend or two in the process.

      Pro-tip: and once every three or four years when you need a relatively simple favor, you can probably call on that one or two people who guard your property on Sundays for assistance. Case in point: a neighbor of mine graciously allows me to hunt their property. A few years back, when their son unintentionally drove into another neighbor’s mailbox and destroyed the post/mount, I cheerfully volunteered to buy a new post and do the lion’s share of the work to help their son replace/rebuild that mailbox post/mount. It was a great opportunity to foster genuine goodwill between all involved — a classic “win-win-win” deal.

      In a totally different vein: consider yourself extremely fortunately/blessed that you have a lot of land which is apparently good for hunting. Countless people never inherited any land or never earned enough money to purchase land that they can hunt.

      • The roads are township / public right of way. The property is surrounded by homes every 100 to 200 yards except for one side, the roadway. If you fire a shot it is likely that you’ll see a house in the backround of your sights, and that hasn’t stopped several people. I have an orange no trespassing/hunting sign every 25 yards. Also, road hunting is illegal. My neighbors help kick people out. Scumbags gonna scumbag.

    • Matt,

      I assume from your name that you live in Oklahoma. And your comment implies that hunting in Oklahoma is a simple affair with very few rules. And to that I say (genuinely, no snark nor resentment) good for you!

      I happen to live in a state with similarly complex hunting laws to Pennsylvania (although thankfully I am not aware that my state ever prohibited hunting on Sundays). It is the result of significant Progressive political impact on my state’s government for the last 100 years. It is also somewhat of a typical legal landscape when population and/or population density is on the higher end of the scale.

      For clarity: I am not endorsing nor defending such complex hunting legal landscapes. I am simply explaining their origins/causes.

  5. If America doesn’t start turning to God, you can kiss all your freedoms goodbye. Anything and everything but worshipping God. Hunting, shopping, eating and drinking as in the days of Noah.

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