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Combining buck, doe seasons is chance to grow sport of hunting

Traditions are traditions for a reason, so we understand why some — perhaps many — hunters may be opposed to the Pennsylvania Game Commission choosing to combine the firearms buck and doe seasons (the PGC calls them “antlered” and “antlerless” deer seasons) into a single two-week period.

But the PGC has shown a real interest in making changes to improve access to hunting for everyone, including allowing younger children to participate with a responsible adult via the mentored youth program, not to mention a willingness to alter the seemingly-sacred calendar.

It was not long ago we heard many of the same people grumbling over the start of buck season being moved from its traditional Monday to the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Part of that was likely rooted in the age-old tradition of skipping work that first day. Long ago, schools decided to not fight it by granting students and their staff (many of whom would be afflicted with “buck fever” if classes were held) that Monday off, at least.

Some even went as far as to give Monday and Tuesday as off days.

But not everyone has that option. By making the start of the season a Saturday, more people could more easily take to the woods on hunting’s most popular day.

Once it was actually implemented, it wasn’t anywhere near the end of deer hunting in the Keystone State as we know it as some wanted you to think it would be.

We feel similarly about the combined deer season.

The fact is the number of people who hunt has been in steady decline, especially among young people.

It’s no secret in this day and age of screens populating children’s lives more than ever — especially with many still completing some or all of their schoolwork online — something must be done to get kids off their computers, phones and video game consoles and into the great outdoors. By increasing the odds those young hunters and first-timers will bag a deer and have something to show for their efforts, the odds increase they’ll want to come back.

We’re sure many long-time hunters out there have a story about their first time putting on that blaze orange and sharing that special moment with their parents, grandparents or whomever else was there and how that sparked a lifelong love for hunting.

This is a chance to give a new generation that same feeling and same appreciation for the outdoors.

We applaud the PGC for making efforts to engage the younger generation in an important tradition. We hope that even if they’d have rather kept things as they were, hunters take advantage of this new opportunity to start or grow a young person’s love of the great outdoors.

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