HARRISBURG, PA — Two changes approved earlier this year by the Pennsylvania Game Commission now have become official.
Hunters throughout most of the state’s Special Regulations Areas now may use straight-walled centerfire cartridges in addition to other lawful ammunition, and mentored hunters now may pursue waterfowl and bears, as well as other approved species, in open seasons.
Both changes were adopted by the Game Commission in July and became official last week when they were published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
Straight-walled cartridges essentially are a short-range option for rifle shooters. They lose velocity quickly, but at their optimal ranges, can be highly effective ammunition. In many states straight-walled cartridges have become an alternative in shotgun-only areas. Their limited range is similar to a rifled shotgun, inside 200 yards, but they often provide better accuracy and considerably less recoil, making their use an attractive option for smaller-framed hunters.
However, this new option does not apply throughout the entirety of the Special Regulations Areas. In all of Philadelphia County, and at Ridley Creek State Park in Delaware County and Tyler State Park in Bucks County, the hunting use of centerfire rifles continues to be prohibited, meaning centerfire straight-walled cartridges can’t be used there.
Special Regulations Areas include Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, as well as Ridley Creek and Tyler state parks during special controlled hunts.
Straight-walled cartridges remain lawful for hunters outside of Special Regulations Areas.
Meanwhile, the new opportunities for mentored hunters have expanded the list of species mentored hunters can hunt in open seasons to: rabbits, hares, ruffed grouse, mourning doves, bobwhite quail, pheasants, crows, squirrels, porcupines, woodchucks, coyotes, deer, waterfowl, bears and wild turkeys.
Mentored bear hunters ages 7 and older must purchase their own bear license. Those under age 7 must receive a valid bear license through transfer from an adult mentor.
All mentored hunters pursuing waterfowl need a Pennsylvania migratory bird license, in addition to their mentored hunting permit. Those mentored hunters ages 16 and older also need a federal duck stamp.
The amended regulation that brought about these opportunities also enables mentored hunters ages 7 and older to buy their own special spring turkey licenses, and allows those licenses to be transferred from their original holders to a mentored hunter under age 7.
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