Official Gun’ For Pennsylvania?

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

June 24, 2009

‘Official Gun’ For Pennsylvania?
Through proclamation or legislative action, every state in the U.S. has an
official flower, flag, bird, motto, and song. Some even have state mammals,
fish or reptiles. But, to our knowledge here at The Outdoor News Hound, no
state has ever taken action to designate an official firearm. Until now, that
is. You’ll also read about the historical expansion of crossbow hunting seasons
this year, and more!

Art And Accuracy
In late May, State Sen. Pat Browne of Allentown, Pa., introduced legislation
designating the historic Pennsylvania Rifle as the official firearm of The
Keystone State.

J.R. Absher

"The Pennsylvania Rifle was the first truly American firearm and, due
to its exceptional accuracy and range, was considered the greatest achievement
in the development of firearms during the 18th century," the bill states,
in part.

The legislation is the result of several years of hard work by historic
firearms lovers in Pennsylvania, in particular those affiliated with the
Jacobsburg Historical Society’s Pennsylvania Long Rifle Museum.

"We have been working toward this resolution, actively with Rep. Craig
Dally, for the last three years," said Museum president Dave Ehrig.
"It was only after a summit at the museum, followed by a luncheon
reception for Sen. Pat Browne, did the good senator become swayed. We are
excited about the future!"

Ehrig also serves as director of the Longhunter Society for the National
Muzzle Loading Rifle Association (NMLRA), which scores and records outstanding
big game animals taken exclusively with muzzle-loading firearms.

An early handcrafted Pennsylvania Longrifle built in the mid- to late-1700s
could take 200-300 hours to craft, especially in the days when barrels were

"They are one of the pure forms of American art form," said
firearms historian Tim Lubenesky. "Almost every kind of art was brought
from other parts of the world, but the Kentucky Rifle or Pennsylvania Longrifle
and its four-piece engraved brass patchbox is unique to the Americas. No place
else does it exist."

New Jersey Approves Crossbows For Archery Season
Last week’s vote by the New Jersey Fish and Game Council to approve crossbows for
the state’s regular archery-only hunting season made New Jersey the fourth
state in the past three months to take such action — an unprecedented move in
state hunting regulatory activity.

New Jersey’s action means the number of states permitting crossbows in
bow-only seasons increased by a whopping 25 percent since April 2009!

Since the first of the year, state game commissions in Pennsylvania and
Michigan approved crossbows for archery seasons through regulatory action,
while Texas passed legislation to that end. All three states are consistently
among the top five in the country in overall hunter numbers as well as
bowhunting participation.

The New Jersey Fish and Game Council voted unanimously Tuesday to amend the
state Game Code definition of "bow" by removing the prohibition
on all draw locking and draw holding devices, and by including crossbows in the
definition. Crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 75 pounds and a
minimum stock length of 25 inches.

As an added bonus for those Garden State hunters looking forward to using a
crossbow during the approaching archery deer season, this fall will mark the
first time limited Sunday deer hunting will take place in New Jersey since
colonial times. That’s because last month Gov. Jon Corzine signed a bill into
law allowing bowhunters to hunt on Sundays on private property with permission
as well as on state hunting lands.

The addition of New Jersey, Texas, Michigan, and Pennsylvania brings the
total number of states allowing crossbow use in bow-only deer seasons to 12.
The others are Alabama, Arkansas, Maryland, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee,
Virginia, and Wyoming.

‘Bobwhite Buffers’ Surpass 200,000-Acre Mark
The federal Conservation Reserve Program aimed at restoring wild quail habitat
and numbers has enrolled 8,181 new acres this year, surpassing the 200,000
acre-mark nationally.

Conservation Practice 33 (CP-33), commonly referred to as "Bobwhite
Buffers" added 2,070 acres in the month of May alone.

Established in 2004, "Bobwhite Buffers," encourages expansion of
the edge habitat along fields, streams, and woods where bobwhite quail thrive.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established a goal of 250,000
acres for the program, which is part of the larger federal Continuous
Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP).

"The only way to bring back decimated bobwhite quail populations is to
provide the necessary habitat for them to thrive, and CP-33 does exactly that
better than any other tool available," said Dave Nomsen, Quail Forever’s
vice president of government affairs.

Here are the CP-33 acreage enrollment numbers by state through May 2009:
Illinois 44,611, Kansas 32,558, Missouri 29,542, Iowa 23,031, Ohio 14,318,
Indiana 11,255, Kentucky 7,430, North Carolina 6,865, Nebraska 5,647, South
Carolina 5,496, Arkansas 5,385,Tennessee 4,888, Texas 4,620, Georgia 2,195,
Mississippi 2,164, Virginia 1,498, South Dakota 1,239, Alabama 1,067, and Oklahoma

Some Cheers For FWS Nominee
President Barack Obama’s nomination of Sam D. Hamilton to serve as the new
director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has already been met with
a positive reaction by some leaders of the hunting and conservation community.

"Sam is an excellent choice to be the new Director of FWS," said
William Horn, director of federal affairs for the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, a
national sportsmen’s advocacy group. "He’s been great to work with over
the years and brings much common sense to an agency with huge responsibility
over the future of our natural resources."

Hamilton, a 30-year FWS veteran, was appointed Southeast Regional Director
in Atlanta, Ga., in 1997, serving as senior operating executive with
full-strategic planning and management responsibility for a $484 million budget
and a 1,500-person work-force that operates in 10 states and the Caribbean. As
regional director, he has been responsible for the oversight and management of
more than 350 federally listed threatened and endangered species, and 128
national wildlife refuges.

Prior to becoming regional director, Hamilton served as assistant regional
director of the ecological services in Atlanta and the Service’s Texas state
administrator in Austin.

"My greatest challenge is to help bring conservationists, hunters,
anglers, landowners, state and federal agencies, and business people together
to help us conserve and enhance what makes America great — our treasured
wildlife resources," said Hamilton.

Hamilton’s nomination also received high marks from the leadership of Duck’s
Unlimited, one of the nation’s largest and most influential conservation

"Sam Hamilton is the consummate professional. He has accomplished great
things for wildlife in his many years of work with the Fish and Wildlife
Service," said Dr. Alan Wentz, Sr. Group Manager for Conservation,
Communications and Marketing for DU. "Sam has worked with Ducks Unlimited
on many projects and programs over the year and we are lucky that he is willing
to move into this important position."

Hamilton’s nomination will require full U.S. Senate confirmation.

Quote Of The Week
"Dogs do speak. They speak to us in our dreams. I have met many men and
women, who, like me, dream about the dog they loved who is no more."
-Roger Grenier
“The Difficulty of Being a Dog,” 2000

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear
in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the
outdoors weekly for You may contact him at