Archers could hunt and even walk to and from their stands without wearing any orange as earlier as the coming fall.
Photo: Howard Communications
The 30-06, the 30-30, those are venerable cartridges, time tested and still omnipresent in the whitetail woods just about everywhere.
The 6.5 Creedmoor doesn’t have that status yet. But it’s gaining in popularity for being flat shooting.
One problem with it, at least as it pertains to Pennsylvania?
It’s not legal in every circumstance.
According to Pennsylvania Game Commission regulations, hunters pursuing elk must use rifles chambered in .270 or larger. The 6.5 Creedmoor isn’t.
Yet, this past season, several elk hunters took 6.5 Creedmoors afield, said David Mitchell, director of the agency’s northcentral region office. They just didn’t know the rules, he said.
That’s not necessarily surprising, it seems.
“One of the complaints we get continually is that we’re complicated,” said commission president Tim Layton of Somerset County.
That’s led to this.
The commission recently asked the Wildlife Management Institute to look over the commission’s regulations. The goal is to see “what we can do to start simplifying things,” Layton said.
The Institute is a Washington, D.C., based conservation organization that works with fish and wildlife agencies nationwide.
The Institute will provide its report this month or next, said commission executive director Bryan Burhans.
Two Game Commissioners, Stanley Knick of Luzerne County and Dennis Fredericks of Washington County, will sit on a committee working with Institute staff. The heads of several commission bureaus – wildlife, law enforcement, information and education and habitat management – will join them.
That committee will report back to the full board of commissioners, with recommendations on where to potentially simplify the rules, Layton said.
How fast might change occur, though?
That’s where things get tricky, if this is one example.
Eighteen months or so ago, commissioners said they wanted to simplify the rules for how much orange hunters have to wear and when. It’s only this month that they will roll out a “simplified” proposal.
But not to unanimous acclaim.
“I don’t think everyone is satisfied with it,” Layton said.
The proposal expected to go before commissioners when they meet Jan. 27-29 calls for making two major changes.
One eliminates the need for archery hunters, whether pursuing deer or black bears, to wear any orange at any time. The other likewise eliminates the need for fall turkey hunters to wear orange, except when moving through the woods. Then, they’d need an orange hat.
The commission would “highly recommend” that turkey hunters and archers wear orange at all times, for safety’s sake. But it wouldn’t require it.
Most of the commission’s other rules for orange would remain the same.
Hunters would still be required to wear 250 square inches of orange on the head, back and chest combined, visible from 360 degrees, when hunting deer, bear and elk in all firearms seasons, including the October antlerless deer season. They would need to wear the same amount when hunting small game and coyotes during daylight hours in deer, bear and elk season.
Meanwhile, groundhog hunters would need to wear an orange hat at all times, and anyone hunting from a ground blind would need to post 100 square inches of orange visible from 360 degrees within 15 feet of their location.
The changes won’t be official even if they pass the board this month. Commissioners must approve them a second time, in April, for that to be the case.
Some will likely oppose the changes, this month or then.
“What the board has to determine is if this proposal strikes that balance between safety and simplifications of the regulations,” said Randy Shoup, director of the commission’s bureau of wildlife protection.
That’s the stocking point with some.
But a resolution is coming. Then, it will be on to the next possible changes, as recommended by the Institute.
Stay tuned on that.
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