HARRISBURG – Triblive is reporting… As the debate around the timing of the opening day of the Pennsylvania’s firearms deer season continues, a Lehigh Valley legislator has joined the ranks of those considering moving the opener back to its traditional Monday after Thanksgiving. Last week, state Sen. Lisa Bosola posted a legislative memo looking for sponsors on legislation she plans to introduce that would permanently move the opening day back to the Monday. For the past four years, the season has opened on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and earlier this year the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s (PGC) Board of Commissioners gave preliminarily approval to a slate of 2023 hunting dates that included the firearms deer season starting on Sat., Nov. 25. A final vote on seasons and bag limits will take place in April.
While a number of sportsmen support the idea of moving the deer season opener back to a Monday, the majority of hunters apparently like the Saturday opener. A 2022 survey conducted for the PGC by the Virginia-based Responsive Management showed that 60% of respondents — resident hunters ages 18 and older were surveyed — strongly or moderately supported the Saturday opener. On the other hand, only 27% were strongly or moderately opposed, while 13% had no preference. The timing of opening day is also a hot issue on social media, with 6,200 members belonging to the “Pennsylvania Hunters Who Love the Saturday Opener” Facebook group, while 4,800 people have joined the “Pennsylvania Hunters Against the Saturday Deer Opener” group.
According to Boscola, when opening day was moved to a Saturday in 2019, many hunters, and the business owners who rely on hunters, expressed some reservations about the move. “Since the change, our office has received many calls and letters asking to revert back to the traditional Monday opener, especially from small business owners that have noticed that the change has hurt their bottom line,” she said. “Many of these businesses are still trying to recover from the COVID shutdowns and if moving opening day back to Monday will help them thrive, it is something we in the legislature should consider. “Even if the bill does not move, introducing it will start a conversation about what is in everyone’s best interest. “
“Our office has (already) received much support for our efforts to move opening day back to its traditional Monday after Thanksgiving.” Boscola, D-Lehigh/Northampton, isn’t the only state legislator looking to change the opener back to a Monday. State Rep. Brian Smith, R-Jefferson/Indiana, is also in the process of finding co-sponsors for legislation he plans to introduce into the House in the near future. “The bill is similar to Rep. Brian Smith’s bill,” said Boscola, a member of the Senate Game & Fisheries Committee. “Oftentimes, members in the House and Senate will introduce similar bills in an effort to get legislation passed because it may move faster through one chamber than the other. It also promotes conversation around the topic.”