In April, the Board of Commissioners of the Pennsylvania Game Commission voted 5-3 to change the “opening day” of the firearms season for white-tailed deer from the traditional Monday after Thanksgiving to the Saturday after the holiday.

Research shows that the last time deer season opened other than the Monday after Thanksgiving was in l962. That year the season opened on Dec.  3, a full week to the Monday after Thanksgiving. I was a sophomore in high school that year.  I did not start hunting deer until my active duty U.S. Navy days ended in l966. I have no idea why the l962 opening daystarted on that date.  If anyone does remember it, please contact me.

In my discussions with local hunters, many are positive about changing opening day to Saturday.  Many folks work Monday through Friday and having deer season start on a Saturday is just fine with them.  Many parents are delighted to be able to have that early start to take their children and/or grandchildren hunting.

In addition, local folks know exactly where they will hunt on opening day. Many are also archery hunters. With a six-week season just ended a few weeks ago, they have done a lot of scouting. Also, the locals do not travel far to their hunting grounds.  The real losers will be the local sporting goods stores. I know that the Friday, Saturday and even Sunday before the traditional opening day on Monday is the busiest three days of the entire year. They will suffer lost revenue, as will other local businesses such as food stores.

Folks who travel to cabins from out of the area are most affected by moving opening day. Traditionally, hunters enjoyed their family time at Thanksgiving, and then headed for their hunting grounds on the Friday or Saturday after the holiday. That will cease somewhat with a Saturday opener.

Then there are the traditional local events having to do with deer season openers and Small Business Saturday. I guess the annual “bucket toss” conducted by the Canton Fire Company to raise funds will switch to Friday. Many organizations hold breakfasts and dinners for hunters.  That may suffer also.

Understand this: I am no longer a deer hunter. Cancer took my thyroid in 2003. Thus I can no longer stand cold weather — that is temperature below freezing. Thus as I have written in four articles earlier this year, I am absolutely neutral on the change of opening day. Saturday is the day we attend those Small Business Saturday events and purchase our Christmas tree.  

It will be interesting to many of us to see how this change in opening day will affect future opening days. The Pennsylvania Board of Commissioners has promised the PA House Fish & Game Committee that they will assess the Saturday opening day after all deer seasons end in January 2020.

This column is dedicated to my friend, retired U.S. Navy Commander Bill McNett, of Canton who passed away some weeks ago. Bill was a good Christian friend of mine and a fine gentleman. He was a pilot and told me lots of stories of his service.  I remember our military every day in my prayers. USA, Land of the Free, because of the Brave. God Bless America!


Jim Collins is an outdoor writer for The Sunday Review. He lives in Alba, Pennsylvania with his wife, Linda Marie. You may contact him at: jimcollinsinsurance@ or (570) 673-3622.