Pennsylvania Legislator Moves to Bring Back Monday Deer Opener | Outdoor Sports, Hunting and DIY Crafts

A Pennsylvania legislator recently outlined plans to introduce legislation to change the opening day of the firearms deer season from Saturday back to the Monday after Thanksgiving. 

Pennsylvania Legislator Moves to Bring Back Monday Deer Opener

State Rep. Brian Smith, R-Punxsutawney, announced plans to change the deer season opening day back to Monday. Since 2019, the season has started on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, but Smith cited multiple hardships to hunters, families and businesses resulting from the move. 

In a memorandum sent to all House members on Dec. 13, state Rep. Brian Smith, R-Punxsutawney, said he plans on introducing legislation in the near future to amend Title 34 and return the opening day of the antlered rifle deer season to the Monday after Thanksgiving. In 2019, the Pennsylvania Game Commission board voted to change the deer season opener from Monday to the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, and the move has generated much debate. 

In his memorandum, Smith said the change had a financial impact on small businesses and volunteer organizations that relied on the weekend prior to the Monday start for a revenue boost. He also stated the change to Saturday took away family time during the holiday weekend as hunters left for camp immediately after Thanksgiving. 

“This also meant losing the family traditions of attending fundraising events and of shopping on Friday and small business Saturday,” Smith wrote. “The loss of revenue to these small business owners, volunteer fire companies and other volunteer organizations has been devastating to their bottom line.”

In addition to the change back to Monday, Smith is also proposing the rifle deer season run consecutively from Monday through the second Sunday, equating to a two-week season with no disruptions. Currently, the season is stopped on the second Sunday (Dec. 2 of this year) and resumes for another week on the following Monday. Smith’s proposal would add a second Sunday to the season, a move he said would present additional opportunity for hunters while affording them a total of four weekend days to hunt — the same amount offered under the current season structure.

“In doing this I hope to bring back harmony between hunting season and the success of small businesses during the weekend after Thanksgiving,” Smith wrote.

If the proposal does become law, Game Commission spokesman Travis Lau said the agency’s board would still establish season length based on the Monday start. 

The board would also decide where to place the second Sunday, he added. 

In addition to Smith’s memorandum, there is discussion in the state Senate regarding introduction of a bill that removes the prohibition on Sunday hunting and allows the Game Commission to determine the placement of Sundays within specific seasons. Legislation to that regard is expected to be introduced in January 2023. 

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