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Measure changes hunting hours

Beginning the fall, hunters can legally hunt one-half hour before sunrise and a half hour after sunset.

Courtesy photo

When the early Canada goose season opens on Sept. 1, it will be the start of something new in Pennsylvania.

For the first time, hunters can take advantage of extended hunting hours that allow them to pursue game beginning one-half hour after sunset. The change is not applicable to the regular waterfowl and dove seasons.

In April, the PGC Board of Game Commissioners gave final approval to a measure to extend legal hunting hours to one-half-hour after sunset for all game and the September Canada goose season.

That means for those pursuing geese in the eastern half of Luzerne County on Sept. 1, they can hunt until 8:03 p.m. The change is expected to have a larger impact on big game hunters, especially archers who will be able to hunt until almost 7 p.m. for part of the season.

The change may result in an increase in the archery deer harvest because it allows hunters more time to be in their stands when deer movement is at its peak. However, Luzerne County Wildlife Conservation Officer Dave Allen cautioned hunters to use common sense with the extended hours.

“On an overcast day, safe hunting light may fade quicker even though it’s still legal to be out there,” he said. “On a clear day, you can see later into the evening. It’s very dependent on the weather.”

Wilkes-Barre resident Barney Slabinski, who has hunted for 67 years, doesn’t like the extended hunting hours because he feels it will cause safety issues.

He would rather see the hunting hours remain the same than run the risk of allowing hunters to hunt in dark conditions.

Still, Slabinski said many archery hunters stay in their stands after legal hunting hours have expired anyway.

“During a recent archery season, a guy I know hit a deer and came and asked for a light so we could find it. We got a flashlight and found it only 45 yards from his stand,” Slabinski said. “If he shot it when it was light out, he would’ve seen the deer drop that close to his stand.”

Pittston resident Ed Grasavage, who archery hunts in Susquehanna County, said the decision to utilize the later hours and hunt into the evening is a judgment call for hunters. Like Allen, Grasavage said the weather will be the determining factor.

“There’s always weather conditions that make it get dark before legal shooting hours expire,” he said. “I don’t see a problem with it because I usually hunt to the last minute. That’s when the crucial time for deer movement occurs.”

Grasavage felt the measure would result in more deer killed in archery season, but added light conditions will be especially tough early in the season.

“When the leaves are still on the trees, it’s darker in the woods,” Grasavage said.

Allen acknowledged he is concerned about hunters hunting in darkness, but he hopes common sense will prevail.

The extending hours not only add to the amount of legal hunting time, it will also add to his workday as well.

“I’ll plan on working late more often so I can patrol and be in the field while hunters are out.”

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