The Pennsylvania Game Commission arbitrarily changed the opening day of deer season destroying a highly successful 60-year Thanksgiving weekend structure. Moving the opening day from Monday to the Saturday after Thanksgiving revealed a gross lack of knowledge and enormous disregard of the economic benefits linked to hunters. One of the top sales weekends for many rural businesses was taken away. No regulatory impact study was done to assess the impact of this radical change, and tens of millions of dollars of sales and tax revenue to the state evaporated. The arrogance of the PGC Board of commissioners was further revealed, when they ignored even the fact the Saturday opener would be in direct conflict with ‘Small Business Saturday’ steering a half-million hunters into the woods that day!

The Monday opener structure not only provided families time to put thanksgiving to bed, it provided the entire weekend for hunters to travel, do last-minute hunting preparations, partake in decades-old traditions, and yes spend money that weekend before the Monday opener. This change was not an oversight or inadvertent mistake. Before this change, PGC hunter surveys, hunter contacts to the agency, input from hunters across the state were running 65 to 90% opposed. Even the PGC staff surveys of perceived benefits from a Saturday start came back flat, and were not in support of the commissioner’s Saturday opener position. A small sample poll of just 10 sporting goods stores revealed over a 360,000.00 loss in sales after that first Saturday opener weekend! They identified neighboring businesses that suffered the same fate. Chamber of commerce representatives reached out to the PGC as many of their businesses were sucker-punched seeing big losses in sales.

The commissioners had no basis to make this change beneficial to hunting or otherwise, but they convinced legislators to wait 3 years to evaluate it. The waiting period is OVER… 3-years in, hunting license sales validate this as a mistake, as the main categories of Resident adult and Resident youth are below where they were in 2018. A paltry increase of a few thousand licenses in peripheral categories, not even influenced by the Saturday change is meaningless. The PGC has nothing and generated a tiny survey, represented it as broad hunter opinion, and blasted it across the state in every media venue because the REAL indicators flopped. The Saturday opener was in part a segue to bring in Sunday hunting, the Sunday can be moved to the next weekend creating 13 continuous hunting days for those that cannot hunt Monday and everyone wins. A fresh organized movement is beginning TODAY to bring back the Monday opener, and reveal this damaging decision to the highest level of state government.

To be counted and get your voice heard for restoring the Monday opener, whether a business or individual, email your views to the following:

Eastern Pa. Western Pa.

There will be more details upcoming.