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Outdoors notebook: Idea of changing deer season opener draws comments

| Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 1:45 p.m.

Greg Lucas admittedly got more than he bargained for.

A state representative from Crawford County, Lucas late last year floated the idea of opening the firearms deer season on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. That would be a change from 60 years or so of tradition.

He asked sportsmen to write, call or email to let him know what they thought of the idea. He heard from more than 1,000 people, he said.

About 65 percent opposed the idea of a Saturday opener, he said, on the basis of tradition, the impact that would have on families who would have to choose between celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday at home and traveling to camp, and concerns it would lead to more deer killed.

The 35 percent who supported the idea largely did so because they believe it would create more opportunities to go hunting, especially for young children and college students, he said.

Lucas said he will not pursue the idea, but only because the Pennsylvania Game Commission is preparing its own survey of hunters on the issue.

He did tell commission staff during a recent hearing in Harrisburg, though, that perhaps it should look into having two openers. Deer season could start on Saturday in more urban and suburban areas, and on Monday in the “big woods” where most of the camps are located, he suggested.

Posted land

A lot of anglers got upset last year when landowners in Erie County posted against trespassing their property along several steelhead streams.

Fishermen said it wasn't fair landowners were closing off access to waters stocked with fish they'd bought and paid for with their license dollars. A couple of lawmakers agree.

State Rep. Dan Moul of Adams County said in a recent public hearing that he's looking into writing legislation that would designate Erie's steelhead streams as “navigable” under state law, meaning landowners could not shut off access to floating or wading anglers. Rep. Marc Gergely of Allegheny County said he's interested in working with him on that.

Big money

The people who hunt and shoot are many, and they spend.

According to new figures from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, 20 million Americans target shoot each year, spending $10 billion along the way. They devote 39 percent of their dollars to firearms, 17 percent to food, fuel and lodging, another 17 percent to optics, handloading, accessories and rentals, and 12 percent to ammunition, among other things.

All of that activity supports more than 180,000 jobs and generates about $3.5 million in local, state and federal taxes, according to the Foundation.

Wildlife center

As expected, work to build a new Pymatuning wildlife learning center is planned to begin this spring.

Pennsylvania Game Commission officials said the $1.8 million project in Linesville should be done by fall of 2015. It will include 9,000 square feet of exhibits and educational displays and space for teacher workshops and other programming.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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