DOYLESTOWN, Pa. -- Do Bucks County deer hunters prefer opening day of the firearms season to be on the Saturday or the Monday following Thanksgiving?
It’s a question debated for some time locally, as well as statewide, and now it’s deepened with the possible introduction of a Pennsylvania law forcing the start back to its traditional Monday after the holiday.
State Sen. Lisa Bosola, of neighboring Lehigh County, recently posted a legislative memo looking for sponsors of legislation she plans to introduce that would permanently move the opening day back to Monday. It will help local business, she said.
The season has opened for the past four years on Saturday after Thanksgiving, and earlier this year the state Game Commission board gave preliminary approval to a slate of 2023 hunting dates that included the firearms deer season starting on Sat., Nov. 25. A final vote on season and bag limits will take place next month.
Pennsylvanians are most comfortable with wildlife decisions being made by the state Game Commission, according to Travis Lau, Director of Communications, state Game Commission.
“Deciding when to open deer season is more of a social issue than a biological issue,” he said. “It’s an issue that’s important to hunters, and the Game Commission in recent years has gone to many lengths to gauge hunter opinions on the opening day. Virtually all evidence collected favors a Saturday opener.”
The debate among Bucks sportsmen finds supporters on both sides. In fact, a poll by the state Game Commission found a majority of hunters like the idea of moving the start day to Saturday after Thanksgiving. A 2022 survey showed that 60 percent of responders (resident hunters ages 18 and older) strongly or moderately support the Saturday opener. On the other hand, only 27 percent were strongly or moderately opposed, while 13 percent had no preference.
The issue also is hot on social media, with 6,200 members belonging to the “Pennsylvania Hunters Who Love Saturday Opener” Facebook group, while 4,800 people have joined the “Pennsylvania Hunters Against the Saturday Deer Opener” group.
When opening day was moved to a Saturday in 2019, many hunters and the business owners who rely on hunters, expressed reservations about the change, according to Boscola.
“Since the change, our office has received many calls and letters asking to revert back to the traditional Monday opener, especially from small business owners that have noticed that the change has hurt their bottom line,” said Boscola. “Many of these businesses are still trying to recover from the COVID shutdown and if moving opening day back to Monday will help them thrive, it is something we should consider.”
Simple introduction of a bill offers a good start, she said.
“Even if the bill does not move, intruding it will start a conversation about what is in everyone’s best interest,” said Boscola. “Our office has received much support for our efforts to move opening day back to the traditional Monday after Thanksgiving.”
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