Busy at work and strapped for free time, not as many adults these days are enjoying the pastime and sport of hunting.
The state Game Commission hopes to reverse that trend with a Senate bill that would lower the cost of adult licenses - for rookie hunters.
The bill is being fine-tuned, but the commission intends to model the initiative from its mentored youth-hunting program established three years ago, said Jerry Feaser, commission spokesman.
"There haven't been any (commission) debates or discussion on the details at this point," Feaser said. "We'd have to put the meat on the bones if the legislation is passed."
Intentions are to create a mentored adult-hunting program. A veteran hunter would stalk game with a beginner, Feaser said.
He hopes to increase license sales.
Senate bill 1594: Would provide lower-cost hunting licenses to adults who want to try the sport.
Return Sales: The state Game Commission would be able to track new hunters and reap the license fee revenue from those who stick with the activity.
For the 1981-82 season, 1.3 million licenses were sold statewide, according to Feaser.
"Now, sales are under a million," he said.
A whole host of distractions prevent people from hunting, he said. With television, computers and organized sports leagues, "there's so many things competing for kids' time nowadays."
Supervising youths, adults often are where the children are. If children aren't hunting, many adults aren't either, Feaser said.
State Sen. Roger A. Madigan, R-Towanda, fully supports the bill.
"We need to encourage people to get involved in hunting, and this is a way to do that," he said.
"We're seeing our license numbers decrease each year," Madigan said. "A number of our potential hunters are not getting involved with hunting."
People should be encouraged to hunt because it is great recreation, according to Madigan.
State Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, agreed.
"I'm generally in favor of anything that encourages folks to get involved in sporting activities," he said.
"We try to get more people, especially younger people, involved in hunting and fishing." Everett said. "If this (bill) will do that, I'm definitely in favor of it.
"(It) sounds like a good marketing strategy to me," Everett said.
The license plan sounds "gimicky" to state Rep. Steven W. Cappelli, R-Williamsport.
When hunters don't see deer, they may become discouraged, he said. Unsuccessful hunters are less willing to spend time and money on the sport, according to Cappelli.
"I appreciate where the senators are coming from on this legislation but, ideally, I don't think it will invigorate adults to try the sport or take young hunters with them," he said.
Cappelli suggested other ways to encourage hunting, such as better land and deer herd management.
Antlerless deer only should be hunted for three days in late fall, as they were several years ago, he said. The season now runs for two weeks.
Trees need to be properly replanted and food plots must be well-stocked, Cappelli added.
Predators that kill spring fawns also need to be closely controlled.
"Bears and coyotes have had a terrible impact on the sustainable deer population," Cappelli said.