STATE—New legislation looking to allow hunting on Sunday and amend trespassing legislation cleared the Pennsylvania Senate Game & Fisheries Committee by an 8-3 vote on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 147 now moves to the Senate floor for full consideration.
“This is a historic vote, as it takes a major step toward increasing recreational opportunities for the thousands of Pennsylvania sportsmen and women who enjoy hunting,” said Senator Dan Laughlin, committee chairperson, in a press release. “This will remove one of only two ‘Blue Laws’ remaining in the state of Pennsylvania. You can’t hunt and you can’t buy a car on Sunday in Pennsylvania.”
Should the legislation be approved, hunters will have more chances to claim their tags, explained Officer Bill Williams of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
He noted the Game Commission frequently fields calls asking why hunting is forbidden on Sundays.
Williams explained this would effectively add two days to deer season, and with the current proposition to start this year's season on a Saturday, would allow two full weeks of hunting.
“It's overwhelmingly a positive thing,” said Williams, hopeful that the additional days when individuals are typically free might increase recruitment and retention of hunters.
Brian Field, Wayne County Treasurer and authorized hunting license issuer, likewise noted the legislation poses the potential for an upward trend in license sales as it gives hunters more opportunities to hunt.
“When we're out and about,” said Field, “We hear both sides.”
The Treasurer relayed there is a degree of mixed emotions regarding Sunday hunting with some hunters having little time otherwise and others viewing Sunday as a day of rest.
In addition to allowing Sunday hunting, Senate Bill 147 likewise aims to elevate trespassing while hunting to a primary offense and increase penalties for it.
Officer Williams explained as the law is now, Game Wardens cannot cite individuals on trespassing violations alone. The perpetrator needs to be cited for something else, such as not wearing high-visibility orange, to which the trespassing charge can be added.
According to Senate Bill 147, one's first trespassing offense would be graded as either a third-degree summary offense or a misdemeanor.
They are currently fifth-degree summary offenses.
Subsequent violations within a seven-year period would be graded as misdemeanors and be subject to removal of one's Pennsylvania hunting privileges for one year.
Finishing out the 2018-2019 hunting calendar, spring bearded turkey season is scheduled to start April 27 and last through May 31.
The daily limit is one bird with a season limit of two. The second bird may only be taken if the hunter has a valid special wild turkey license.
Between April 27 and May 11, hunting hours are between a half hour before sunrise until noon. Between May 13-31, hunting hours are between a half hour before sunrise and one half hour after sunset.
Preceding turkey season, there will be a statewide spring youth hunt for bearded turkey on April 20. There is a limit of one bird per licensed junior hunters and mentored youth.
Adult hunting licenses are available for $20.90. They can be purchased in person from the Wayne County Treasurer's office, Walmart, Front Line Armory, Hunter's Gallery, Northeast Firearms, and the Wallenpaupack Sport Shop.
Licenses can also be purchased online from the Game Commission website, www.pgc.pa.gov.
—Information from a release was used in this story.