Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe said, starting Feb. 13, hunters and trappers no longer have to display their licenses on an outer garment, but they still must have their licenses in their possession while afield, as well as a secondary form of identification, such as a driver’s license.
House Bill 735, sponsored by Rep. Keith Gillespie (R-York), was unanimously approved by the House on June 15, and was approved by a vote of 46-3 in the Senate. Gov. Tom Corbett signed the bill into law on Dec. 15, but the change in law didn’t take effect for 60 days.
“Since 2003, the Game Commission has been supporting various drafts of legislation sponsored by Rep. Gillespie and Rep. Neal Goodman (D-Schuylkill) to remove this antiquated requirement,” Roe said. “With the new license format, this change in law will make hunting less complicated, improve license management by hunters and trappers, and limit the inconveniences and troubles associated with lost or misplaced licenses.
“The electronic license sale system, which provided much smaller licenses than those issued prior to 2009, made the need for licenses to be displayed antiquated. Now, our hunters and trappers can simply put their licenses in their pockets or wallets, along with the required secondary form of identification, while afield.”
Presently, New York and Wisconsin are the only two states that require hunters to wear “back tags,” which had become a common name for licenses.
With this change in law, Roe reiterated his earlier reminders that hunters and trappers not mistakenly place their licenses in the dryer or near any source of heat, as it will cause the material to shrivel and turn black.
“Hunters and trappers will need to be extra careful to take their licenses out of their pockets after a day afield, because the new license material is made of thermal paper, and will become illegible if placed in the dryer or left near a heat source for any length of time,” Roe said. “Similarly, don’t leave licenses lay on the dashboard of your car, as this will cause them to turn black as well.”
Also, to avoid confusing a previous year’s licenses with new licenses, hunters and trappers will want to get into the practice of removing licenses from their gear and replacing them with the new licenses.
“By removing last year’s license from your hunting equipment, you will avoid misusing last year’s tags for game harvested this year,” Roe said. “Make sure that your licenses and tags have ‘11/12’ noted on them, and leave all previous years’ licenses at home.
“Also, when tagging harvested game, make sure you use the harvest tag and keep the license panel with you, as you will need that information when reporting deer and turkey harvests. This is critical for antlerless deer licenses, which are processed by county treasurers and include two panels; the top portion, which is the antlerless deer license, and the bottom portion, which is the harvest tag.”
Hunters who go out hunting for deer, turkey or bear also should add a ball-point pen to the list of equipment they plan to take out with them.
“Ball-point pens work best when filling in the harvest field tags that must be attached to harvested big game,” Roe said. “Felt tip pens will smear, pencils will wipe off easily, and other sharp implements used in the past, such as the pin tip of most back-tag holders, will not work on the new license material.
“Each field harvest tag – whether for deer, bear or turkey – has two pre-punched holes to make it easier to attach the tag to the animal carcass. And, one last tip on harvest tags: make sure that you use the correct tag. Not only is each harvest tag pre-printed with the hunter’s name, address and license number, but each harvest tag is identified by species name as well as an icon to depict the species.”
For those using State Game Land shooting ranges, range permits and hunting or furtaker licenses do not need to be displayed while using a range, but must be in possession, as well as a secondary form of identification.