Hunting, fishing changes coming
The Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission are unveiling changes in 2023 for hunters and fishermen in the commonwealth.
The PFBC reminds all anglers ages 16 and older that the new 2023 licenses are now necessary to fish in all commonwealth waters. The first day of trout will be a statewide date of April 1 for everyone which will do away with the split dates attempted between the southern counties and the northern tier counties.
There will still be a Mentored Youth Fishing Day on March 25 across Pennsylvania. Youths 15 and younger will be required to obtain the Mentored Youth license which is free from any license agent. There will also be two Fish for Free Days set for May 28 and July 4 in 2023. All people, regardless of age or residency, will be permitted to fish while following all the PFBC rules and regulations.
The PGC has made some changes in the Elk program, which includes an earlier application date for the elk draw starting on February 1st and an earlier elk permit drawing set for July 29. The PA elk herd continues to break records with their trophy racks and sizes of the animals. There will continue to be three distinctive seasons which include; Early Archery held on Sept. 16-30, the General Season from Oct. 30 through Nov. 4, and the Late Season Dec. 30 through Jan. 6 for both bulls and cow elk. The Pennsylvania elk tag is a coveted prize for anyone lucky enough to be drawn in one of the three seasons, but you do need to put your name in and pay a small application fee to be eligible.
The PGC is also changing the decades-old doe license applications. All hunters can now purchase an antlerless license online or at any license agent beginning on the fourth Monday in June (June 26th). Goodbye pink envelopes! You will still need to choose your WMU to hunt in — once the unit is sold out, you will be directed to another choice or no tag.
Each round will continue online or at an agent after 8 a.m. Non-residents can apply on the second Monday of July, then the second round will be on the fourth Monday of July and the third in August. You better have a calendar handy with a few notes on it!
The PGC discussed the introduction of some new species that haven’t been seen in these parts for quite a long time. One is the Pine Marten, which is a member of the Mustelid family along with other weasel relatives like the mink and fishers. They are sought after for their pelts by fur trappers and have been missing from Pennsylvania’s landscape for decades. The PGC continues their efforts in reintroductions of many mammals like the otter, fisher and bobcat throughout the commonwealth.
Another species considered to be interesting as a put-and-take game bird and of general interest is the bobwhite quail. They are easy to propagate and could add another species for the Pennsylvania outdoors to both hunt and observe in general. I don’t know how this plan will work in the long run, but trying something new is better than doing nothing at all!
So we wrap up the 2022-23 big game season in Pennsylvania (except for the Spring Gobblers) and it is a good time to think back over the past year. For myself, it was a successful year in that I was able to harvest some deer and an elk. The fellows and I had great success fishing for both trout and walleye in the spring and summer and look forward to a new season right around the bend.
We started out 2023 with a sausage-making day so we can share with our gang around the lake in April. A couple of hundred people can eat a lot of sandwiches on a cold Saturday morning! It’s not the catching that is so important, but the catching up with our friends.
May you all start to make some plans with your friends and get out in the woodlands and waterways to share some good times. It is also the time to think of dear friends that we may not meet on the trails and lake sides this season, remember their stories and smiles and always take them with you on all of your journeys!
Until we meet again, oil up those reels and put on some fresh line for those trophy lunkers!
Jay Hewitt is an outdoors columnist for the Butler Eagle