Pa. Game Commission for evil | Staff/guest columns

The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) arbitrarily changed the opening day of stag season, destroying a highly successful 60-year-old Thanksgiving weekend structure.

Moving opening day from Monday to Saturday after Thanksgiving revealed a gross lack of knowledge and a huge disregard for the economic benefits of hunters. One of the best selling weekends for many rural businesses has been removed.

No regulatory impact study was done to assess the impact of this sweeping change, and tens of millions of dollars in localized commercial sales and state tax revenue evaporated. The arrogance of the PGC board of commissioners was further exposed, when they even ignored the fact that the Saturday opening would be in direct conflict with the “Small Business Saturday” which ran half a million hunters in the drink that day.

The Monday opening structure not only gave families time to go to bed for Thanksgiving, but it also allowed hunters to travel all weekend, make last-minute hunting preparations, participate in decades-old traditions and, yes, to spend the money this weekend before the Monday opening. .

Most schools are closed on the Monday after Thanksgiving across the Commonwealth. This change was not an oversight or an inadvertent error. Prior to this change, surveys of PGC hunters, hunter contacts with the agency, hunter contributions statewide were 65-90% opposed.

Even polls of PGC staff on the perceived benefits of a Saturday start have come back flat, from students and others, and not in favor of the stewards’ opening position on Saturdays. A small survey of just 10 sporting goods stores revealed lost sales of over $360,000 after that first Saturday opening weekend! They identified neighboring businesses that suffered the same fate. Representatives of chambers of commerce have contacted the PGC as many of their businesses have been hit with big sales losses.

The commissioners had no basis for making this change beneficial for hunting or otherwise, but they convinced lawmakers to wait three years to assess it. The waiting period is over, three years later, hunting license sales validate this as an error, as the main categories of adult residents and young residents are below what they were in 2018.

A paltry increase of a few thousand licenses in peripheral categories, not even influenced by Saturday’s change, makes no sense. The PGC got nothing and generated a little survey of an out-of-state company and portrayed it as a broad hunter opinion, and ran it across the state in all media, because the real indicators have collapsed.

The Saturday opening was partly a transition to Sunday hunting, Sunday can be moved to the following weekend creating 13 continuous hunting days for those who cannot hunt on Monday and everyone wins.

A new organized movement is now beginning to bring back the Monday opening and expose this damaging decision at the highest levels of state government.

Randy Santucci, a permanent resident of Pennsylvania, hunter and fisherman, is an independent business owner. He is the past president of Unified Sportsman of Pennsylvania and served on the Governor’s Advisory Council for Game, Fish and Conservation under Governor Tom Corbett. Dan Davila is a lifetime Commonwealth hunter and fisherman. Although he now resides in Boardman, Ohio, where he is self-employed, he has a rich family history in York Region and owns property and camp in Pennsylvania.

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