Good morning, I hope you and your family have been well through all this Covid mess. Please let me introduce myself; I served on Governor Corbett’s Advisory Council for Hunting Fishing and Conservation. Was president of the largest individual membership sportsman’s group Unified Sportsmen, testified several times to house and senate committees on sporting-related issues, and testified in 2019 to an HG&F committee regarding this Saturday deer opener that I am contacting you about today. Please excuse the long email, but there are many new committee members that may not be aware of what transpired since 2019.
I will be having current data published (the 3rd regarding this issue since 2019) in the January edition of Pa. Outdoor News. 3 years ago, I compiled this data and opinion that supported NOT changing the deer opener to Saturday. I was invited to testify to an HG&F committee in Charleroi in February 2019. My testimony contained many researched factual detriments from social and economic perspectives, as well as the needed time to put to bed Thanksgiving and allow time for hunting traditions and preparation. The PGC wanted 3 years to evaluate the change to the Saturday opener with hunting license sales being an obvious barometer. The article attached reveals resident adult license sales have declined since 2018 prior to implementation of the Saturday opener….we even lost all the anomaly increase from Covid in 2020 and significantly more……. resident youth license sales declined steadily. It was a failure, and sentiments are still strongly opposed to the Saturday start.
My question is….. is any legislator going to take the facts presented in 2019 after the first Saturday opener that proved it to be a non-starter, and now 3-years in, the decline of license sales and act? The best scenario that was presented to the PGC then, and now, would be to restore the Monday opener and move the new Sunday of that weekend to the following weekend creating 13 continuous days of deer season. This would restore the traditions, documented rural economic benefits within the post-Thanksgiving weekend, rural community first responder fund-raising opportunity previously done also within the Thanksgiving weekend. This removes the conflict with the state’s ‘small business Saturday’ initiative and restores the time for family and many other traditional benefits that hunters preferred. Our 25 to 35% of camp and seasonal home hunters mostly despise this change, and continuously complain ” deer season doesn’t feel the same anymore”. I have heard that hundreds of times in my circles, you may have heard or experienced that yourself,
This change was done on perceived speculation, not data assessment, their staff survey results did not even support it. The PGC board was actually recalled to Harrisburg by Gillespie and Kortz to reconsider their vote! and now after the 3-year evaluation period, which the PGC wanted, validates it is a non-starter failure. We need to cut through the BS and now stand on the facts of declining license sales, combined with all the negative socio-economic aspects, and reverse this mistake before it continues to degrade….. I’m sure some evidence by the PGC will show some hunters like the Saturday, and some do, but once again the factual data that matters and a strong percentage of our hunters hate it! The PGC will likely speculate ‘license sales would have fallen more’ and possibly attempt to validate it with last-minute surveys mentioned to me by ED Burhans, are we going to allow the hyperbole and speculation to over-ride the facts….again???
What is the upside to the Saturday opener that stacks up to all this? This was a social experiment not a biological decision in any way, and legislators are well within their purview to step in. Please read my advertisement attached, it gives the details.
PS I can present official PGC license sales spreadsheets if you so care to confirm the numbers.
Thank you as always!
Santucci Process Development