Deer season opening day changed to a Saturday

Ben Destefan news@echo-pilot.com

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is officially moving the first day of firearms deer season to the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

By a 5-3 vote on Tuesday, the board of game commissioners gave final approval to the 2019-20 hunting seasons, which includes the first day of rifle season on Saturday, Nov. 30.

The board gave preliminary approval to the move in January before making it official Tuesday.

This is a major change in Pennsylvania tradition, as the state has opened rifle season on the Monday after Thanksgiving since 1963.

The move is driven by creating more opportunities for young hunters.

"Changing the historic opening day from the Monday following Thanksgiving to the Saturday following Thanksgiving represents a significant change in tradition," the PGC's meeting agenda read. "However, retaining our younger hunters is important to preserving our hunting heritage. By shifting the opening day to a Saturday, this change will create more hunting opportunity by selecting a day which better fits the working/school schedule of youth and young adults."

Rifle season will run from Nov. 30 to Dec. 14, expanding to three Saturdays.

A six-day, antlered-only season is scheduled for Nov. 30 through Dec. 6 in 20 Wildlife Management Units (WMUs), with a seven-day, concurrent season of antlered and antlerless hunting set for Dec. 7 through Dec. 14.

Sunday hunting remains prohibited.

The board also voted to allocate 903,000 antlerless deer licenses statewide, which is up from the 838,000 licenses allocated for 2018-19.

Hunting licenses for 2019-20 go on sale in mid-June and become effective July 1. After hunters purchase a general hunting license, they may apply for antlerless deer licenses based on staggered timelines, which will be outlined in the 2019-20 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, to be given free to all license buyers.