With the sports show in Monroeville ending this week, we enter into the period of boredom. There will be a few small shows, but the shows of most importance to me, and I’m sure a few of you in Southwestern Pennsylvania, are over.

I find the Harrisburg show a bit too far away for me and tend to spend more time at the Monroeville show than at the big one in the state capital. This year, I found myself spending more time at the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers booth than usual. It was nice to see old acquaintances who I hadn’t seen for some time. Of course, when you put three writers in one booth you have a trio that can make the bull fly a bit. I can honestly say that I enjoyed the company of other writers, and it was pointed out to me that I am one of the old-timers and am now referred to as the “wise old one.”

My friend from Missouri, Matt Shoemaker, of Macon County Outfitters, was in good form at the show with a couple of last year’s trophies taken while hunting this year with him. Matt has guided others to big bucks on a consistent basis and it shows in the number of return hunters found at his place in Northern Missouri. The only problem for you is Matt booked out well before the show was over. As John said Matt has a knack of putting his elevated box stands in the right places.

I keep running into outdoors persons who think the proposals made at the last game commissioners meeting are now law. This is far from the truth. Proposals are just that – proposals. Of course, some will become law, but not yet.

One of the big decisions that will be faced in the future is the allowing of Sunday hunting. What many people forget is, this is not a decision by the Game Commission but is really in the hands of the state legislators. The governing body of the state can OK or say no to the Game Commission’s ability to allow Sunday hunting. Then, if it is OK’d, it is up to the Commission to allow or disallow hunting on the Sabbath. Until that time, when the state government does this, it is out of the Game Commission’s hands.

Another big debate is over the use of semi-automatic rifles while big-game hunting. The black rifles seem to be the rage today. Most black rifles are chambered for the diminutive .223 cartridge. In reality, it and its brother, the .223, and the .222 magnum, are varmint rounds designed to be used on 10-to-20-pound animals. I would hardly consider my .223 a deer rifle and the person who uses such a round is either extremely poor and can’t afford another firearm or of questionable ethics. At least that is my opinion.

With that in mind, one thing I think will pass when the commissioners convene in April will involve caliber restrictions for big game. Those restrictions will be across the board and enforced on all types of actions. I think one hunting bear and or elk will be required to use a rifle of at least .270 chambering. For deer the minimum caliber will be .243 in diameter. Personally, I commend the commission for considering a rule that will be needed if, and when, these military copies are used in the fields and woods to hunt deer. But keep in mind, as of yet, they are not rules but mere proposals that will be voted on come April.

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

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