Well, that one bad idea was short-lived.

It seems that starting this upcoming licensing period for hunting, the digest, which explains bag limits and other rules of the hunt, will be given free of charge with each license. If one remembers, this handy booklet was free for years but last year the hunter was charged $6 for one. I know many hunters who were befuddled by the charge, just to explain what was and was not legal. The Pennsylvania Game Commission is to be applauded for returning to the old system of a free hunting digest.

It probably would be safe to say that almost all hunters are aware of the controversy involved in Sunday hunting. While on one side of the idea, it is a quiet day of rest without the sound of rifle fire, the other side works all week leaving them with only Saturdays to hunt. So, naturally, I can see both sides of this issue. I personally like to enjoy a rest from hunting on Sundays but I realize that it is a personal decision. I know I can always stay home on Sunday, even if hunting is allowed, but in reality I know I won’t. I will keep thinking that monster buck is walking past my stand while I am spending Sunday morning at church or in bed. That is a strange reason to lean one way or the other, but I also know a few landowners who say they will close hunting on their property if Sunday hunting is legalized.

Many persons do not understand that the decisions allowing hunting on the sabbath have to be made by the state legislature before the Game Commission can make a move either way. By the way, I don’t like the idea that I must admit to being a conservative in my thinking when it might benefit a few would-be sportspersons if I were not. I also can say in all honesty, I at one time did work for a living and managed to get off work for the first few days of deer season, and sometimes beyond. It is important but the person will find a way.

While Sunday hunting seems to be a big issue, along with the opening of deer season on a Saturday, look for another change in the near future. I believe the Game Commission will introduce new firearms limitations, or maybe I should say cartridge limitations. Much of this will be brought about by the growing popularity of the AR-style rifles, most of which are chambered for a groundhog cartridge, and the legalization of semi-automatic firearms for deer. I believe it is time to act. The .223, or 5.56 as the military calls it, is just too light for most deer-hunting situations and it makes sense to limit the round that is used on big game. I look for a minimum cartridge for deer to be around .24 caliber or bigger, and for bear or elk a round of .270 or larger. This would make sense and removing the .223s is simply more humane.

Maybe it was just me, and maybe it was where I fished, but pressure seemed lighter than usual on opening day of trout season. Personally, I didn’t exactly have a great week as far as numbers go but I did land a 19-inch brown trout in Little Chartiers or Linden Creek, on my usual light tackle I was using. It did make a good account of itself. There are very few worthwhile things that a person accomplishes by him or herself alone. It was a good thing I had a friend, Jake McEwen, along for he suffered the mud and netted the fish for me. I would never have been able to lift it up over the high bank with my light rod and 4-pound line.

The beautiful weather has been a blessing, making my trout season possible. While neither Sunday hunting or the use of semi-automatic firearms for deer have been legalized yet, I have little doubt the future will include both as a major change. So, I guess, some things will change but my fishing will remain the same.

George Block writes a weekly outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.

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