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Hunters may be required to wear more orange than ever before

| Saturday, June 28, 2003

The Board of Pennsylvania Game Commissioners Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a slate of regulatory changes designed to reduce the ongoing confusion associated with hunter fluorescent orange clothing requirements.

A final vote might come October 6-7 at Game Commission meeting.

Legislators say the changes "will consolidate and streamline the hunter orange requirements" -- currently found in the Game and Wildlife Code and nine different subsections of Title 58.

The motive is to simplify what amount of orange clothing hunters must wear at certain times during seasons. However, the proposal seems more designed to simplify law-enforcement procedures with a standard orange-clad ruling.

"Our fluorescent orange requirements have been amended so many times over the past decade that our wildlife conservation officers, the court system and hunters have had a difficult time interpreting them," said Mike Dubiach, Game Commission Bureau of Law Enforcement director. "This revision -- which does include important changes to what have been standard hunter orange requirements -- will make it easier for to hunters to interpret and follow hunter orange requirements. It also will eliminate loopholes some hunters used to circumvent requirements. That will improve enforcement and hopefully augment hunter compliance with the orange regulations."

A few exceptions

With a few exceptions, the proposed hunter orange regulations would require hunters to wear 250 square inches of fluorescent orange clothing on the head, chest and back combined -- visible in a 360-degree arc -- when they hunt or assist in the hunt of any game or wildlife. Hunters would have to wear orange when they move to or from a hunting location, from one hour before legal hunting hours to one hour after legal hunting hours, outside of any vehicle.

The exceptions are:

  • You may hunt waterfowl, doves or crows without wearing fluorescent orange clothing.

  • You may hunt groundhogs wearing only a solid fluorescent orange hat, except during big game seasons, when you must wear 250 square inches of fluorescent orange on the head, chest and back combined.

  • You may move about or relocate during the spring gobbler and early part of the archery season while wearing a solid fluorescent orange hat. When in a stationary calling position, no fluorescent orange clothing is required.

    Angry archers

    The proposed legislation isn't likely to sit well with archers.

    If the new orange regulations are passed by the board of commissioners, when the archery season runs concurrently with any firearms season for big game or squirrel and other small game, the bowhunters must wear 250 square inches of orange clothing -- vest and cap -- while in the tree stand.

    This will give the archery hunters only the first two weeks of the early season to hunt deer in full camo -- and certainly not during the popular rut that takes place the last weeks of the early archery season.

    The bowhunter orange law proposal also will be in effect, if passed, when a hunter assists another hunter, such as trailing a wounded animal during legal shooting hours.

    Turkey and muzzleloader orange

    Perhapsthe biggest changes in the proposal are those for late-season flintlock and fall wild turkey hunters.

    After-Christmas flintlock hunters and fall turkey hunters would be required to wear 250 square inches of fluorescent orange at all times.

    Late-season archery hunters will need to continue the use of more hunter-orange clothing then required before.

    Gray aspect of orange

    The new regulations will permit hunters to continue using camouflage fluorescent orange clothing, unless otherwise specified.

    However, the question of logos on orange caps has been mentioned, with Dubiach wanting only solid orange hunting caps to be legal -- with no logos or writing of any kind reducing the amount of orange on the hat.

    Almost all hunting caps in use now -- including those sold by the Game Commission -- have a logo on them.

    The new orange laws, if passed, will not take effect until the 2004-2005 hunting seasons.

    To comment> /B>

    If you wish to comment to the Game Commission, send correspondence to: Board of Pennsylvania Game Commissioners, Pennsylvania Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797. Copies of your letter will be distributed to each of the agency's board members.

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