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PA – HUNTING – Pennsylvania’s Sunday hunting debuts; ‘This turns opening day into more of an opening weekend.”‘

Sunday, in the heart of deer archery season, was the first of three new days allowed for hunting in Pennsylvania. Nov. 22 will be open to firearms bear hunters. Nov. 29 will be part of the opening weekend of rifle deer season. “That’s the Super Bowl of deer hunting,” said Dustin Stoner, a game warden in Berks County. “That’s the big season.” Sunday hunting has been prohibited in Pennsylvania since the 19th century — though crows, foxes and coyotes are an exception to the rule. The commonwealth was one of only 11 states with statutes that either ban or restrict hunting on Sundays. Last year, the Legislature permitted Sunday hunting. A compromise was worked out that included hunters having to obtain written permission to hunt on private property. The Pennsylvania Game Commission set the dates earlier this year.  It had been a contentious issue. Efforts over the last several decades to expand Sunday hunting often failed because of strong opposition from the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Keystone Trails Association, horseback riders and some hunters. Critics were worried that hunters would infringe on other recreational activities and some spoke out in favor of preserving religious traditions. Supporters of the effort — the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen and Conservationists, the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Federation — argued that Sunday hunting would give hunters more time to pass the tradition to young people and benefit those who work during the week. Advocates also hoped it would turn the tide on the declining number of hunters. The changes may be having an effect. General license sales are up 5% over last year, said Travis Lau, game commission communications director.  [full article]

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