Hunting On The Brain

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the outdoors

July 6, 2005

Hunting On The Brain

So, it’s the Fourth of July week — time to start thinking about hunting seasons, right? Well, it won’t be long now. In fact, some early deer-bowhunting seasons will be underway out West in a matter of weeks. So, to help you start thinking about hunting, we’re featuring news about the Pennsylvania Sunday hunting debate, crossbows in Virginia, the approval of rifles for Iowa antlerless deer, and much more!

Sunday Hunting Debate Gets Hot

On numerous occasions in recent years, the Pennsylvania state legislature has tackled the always-contentious issue of deer hunting on the Sabbath. The latest effort, House Bill 904, that would place the discretion of Sunday hunting implementation into the hands of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, is no less controversial than previously proposed provisions.

J.R. Absher

With the exception of foxes, coyotes and crows, the practice of hunting on Sunday has not been allowed in The Keystone State since 1873.

Not surprisingly, hunters and commercial hunting operators generally favor the practice of Sunday hunting, while the idea is vigorously opposed by the state Farm Bureau, a formidable lobbying power at the state capitol.

“Farmers want one day a week when they can enjoy some privacy, whether it is for religious reasons, quality family time or recreational use of their property,” said Pensylvania Farm
Bureau State Governmental Relations Director Joel Rotz.

This year, Sunday hunting supporters have brought some additional fiscal ammunition to the table, in the form of a study commissioned by the state Legislative Budget and Finance Committee and conducted by Southwick Associates Inc., a company specializing in fish and wildlife economics.

The study estimates that if Sunday hunting were approved for all types of hunting, $629 million in additional revenue would be generated, including $322 million in retail sales, $144 million in earnings, $18 million in taxes, and 5,306 in new jobs.

The study results also noted hunting generates more than $2.33 billion a year to Pennsylvania’s economy, including $1.19 billion in retail sales, $533 million in earnings, $52 million in sales tax revenue, $14.9 million in state income tax revenue, and 19,644 full- and part-time jobs.

Rifles OK’d For Special Iowa Deer Season

The Iowa Natural Resources Commission has approved a pair of provisions designed to help control the state’s growing deer population.

The commission gave thumbs-up to two doe-only seasons — a one-week, high-power rifle (.24-caliber and up) season in January, and a three-day shotgun season on Friday through Sunday after Thanksgiving.

It will mark the first time that rifles have been allowed during an Iowa deer season since 1953.

Antlerless-only tags for the hunts will be sold only in counties where a quota of tags is not met by mid-November, according to Willie Suchy, chief wildlife biologist with the Department of Natural Resources.

As part of its approval package, the commission also increased the number of antlerless-only tags by 19,000. Last year, 90 percent of the state’s 84,000 antlerless-only tags were sold. Often, tags remain unfilled in southern Iowa counties, where deer populations are the highest.

Record Deer Harvest In South Dakota

According to deer harvest data released last week, South Dakota hunters took the most deer ever in 2004, the fifth-straight year the take has increased, according to the state Game, Fish and Parks Department.

Estimates indicate about 60,000 whitetails and 14,000 mule deer were taken in 2004. The total of 74,000 is 4,000 more than 2003 and an increase of nearly 28,000 since 1999.

“The department is pleased with the continued harvest increase, however, we are taking even further steps to increase hunting opportunity with the goal of harvesting even more deer in 2005,” said Corey Huxoll, GF&P harvest survey coordinator.

Huxoll said an increase in overall license and individual tag numbers, season extensions, and a decrease in antlerless tag fees combined to give hunters the incentive to take an extra deer or two in 2004.

Crossbow Use Approved In Virginia

As expected by most commission-watchers, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries board approved regulations allowing crossbow use in archery seasons and gun seasons during its regular session last week.

Virginia follows the lead of other southern states that have approved or are considering the expansion of crossbow use for deer hunting.

According to the V.D.G.I.F., the majority of letters, e-mails and comments it received on the crossbow issue overwhelmingly favored expanding its use — with 2,108 comments for and 177 against, according to V.D.G.I.F.

Crossbows previously had been authorized only for disabled hunters in Virginia. The General Assembly passed emergency legislation this year making them legal hunting weapons and enabling the board to fast-track regulations.

The cost of a special crossbow license will be $12 for state residents and $25 for non-residents.

Quote Of The Week

“Simply put, I love dogs, large or little, yeoman or sissy, working stiff or pampered pet. I have to confess, though, that I love gun dogs most of all. They like what I like, which is to poke around a shaggy piece of countryside where certain birds are likely to be found and to test out collective skills of nose and gun against their capabilities for survival and flight — exercises performed in the sheer animal exuberance of taking part, of being immersed in a world whose rhythms and mysteries are so vast that the deeper we penetrate, the more its margins fade away.”

-Michael McIntosh

“Tales From The Dark Side”

“A Breed Apart,” 1993

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. Visit his Web sites, The Outdoor Pressroom ( and The Outdoor Weblog to find the latest outdoor news of interest. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for You may contact him at

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