Turkey Hunters Oppose New Orange Requirements
The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) has proposed new fluorescent orange regulations for the 2004-2005 hunting season.
The proposed regulations would require fall hunters to wear 250 square inches of orange at all times while hunting. This includes bow, primitive weapon and fall turkey hunters.
Spring turkey hunters would be required to wear a hat of solid orange when relocating, but can remove it when in a stationary calling position. Blaze-camo hats, and orange hats with logos would be illegal.
Jerry Zimmerman, National Wild Turkey Federation Regional Director for Pennsylvania and long-time hunter, is concerned about the proposed blaze-orange changes because Pennsylvania already requires hunters to wear blaze-orange and still had more turkey hunting firearm incidents in 2001 than any other state. According to the International Hunter Education Association there were 20 firearm incidents in Pennsylvania during the fall and spring turkey seasons in 2001 and 23 incidents the year before. Several of these incidents involved hunters wearing blaze orange; three incidents were attributed to the wearing of blaze-orange when hunters mistook blaze- orange for the red of a gobbler's head.
"Back in 1992 when blaze orange started being required for turkey hunters in Pennsylvania there was an initial drop in turkey hunting incidents," Zimmerman said. "But we are still higher than states that don't require blaze orange. What we really need is an increased emphasis on defensive turkey hunting techniques and teaching hunters to positively identify their targets before firing in the hunter safety education courses.
Missouri and Texas, which have comparable numbers of turkey hunters to Pennsylvania and no blaze orange requirements, had fewer turkey hunting incidents in 2001. Missouri had 13 and Texas only had three turkey hunting incidents.
Greg Caldwell, former NWTF state chapter president, said that the Pennsylvania state chapter of the NWTF has gone on record saying that their members cannot and will not support additional orange requirements for turkey hunters.
"The orange is like a band aid to the real problem," Caldwell said. "Teaching hunters how to hunt safely and properly will do more to help solve the problem."
The NWTF recommends never wearing turkey target colors while turkey hunting, unless required by law. The colors that should never be worn are red, white, blue and black, because these are some of the predominant colors found on a gobbler.
Bow, primitive weapon and turkey hunters can voice their opinions about the Pennsylvania orange issue by writing to their local commissioner and the PGC Executives at: PA Game Commission, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 717-787-4250.
The PGC Commissioners will vote on this issue during their October 6 - 7 meetings. The public is encouraged to comment on the proposal before the meeting.