Pennsylvania to End Traditional Regulations

By Chris Berens, D&DH Intern
 
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously voted on June 15 to halt the required use of back tags for deer hunting in the state.  According to the state’s GOP, Rep. Keith Gillespie (R-Hellam), an avid sportsman, introduced the bill after the Pennsylvania Game Commission launched the notion forward. 

 Deer hunting back tag, deer hunting licenseGillespie maintains that back tags are inconvenient, outdated and often easy to lose while hunting.  Back tags have been a means of visual license identification of hunters and part of deer hunting laws for years, but any citizen can still ask to see a hunter’s license for proof.  New York and Wisconsin are two other states that still require hunters to wear back tags.

 The Gillespie bill, as it has become known as, is now awaiting a vote in the state Senate.  Gillespie is a member of the House Game and Fisheries Committee.  

If you are planning your hunts for this fall be sure to check out the exclusive rut predictions in our 2011 Whitetail Calendar.

30 thoughts on “Pennsylvania to End Traditional Regulations

  1. Randy

    I have hunted in Indiana for 40+ years with out a back tag. I believe if a person is dishonest they are going to get around it no matter what system is in place. I just think they need to make penalties tougher for those that break the rules and are caught.

  2. Steve

    I have never come close to losing a backtag, and I can’t remember hearing about anyone who has. The readily available pin-on backtag holders work very well. But, anyone who does lose one can apply for and receive a replacement. They’re very useful for identifying lawbreakers. If you’re a lawbreaker in Wisconsin, odds are you’re against them. Most people who aren’t either don’t mind wearing them or are outright for them.

  3. Mitch

    Not any more easy to lose or destroy then the paper deer tags we have to use in MN. Do I put the tag on and risk it coming off while dragging or leave it off and risk the DNR giving me a ticket for an unlicensed deer?

  4. Bruce

    I have lived and hunted in PA. all my life. I have been hunting since I was 12 and am now 50 yrs. old. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that PA. hunters are stubborn and don’t like change, good or bad. they whine about every change that is made. "oh, we have never done it that way, I grew up doing it this way, I don’t like it this way!" Do you still watch a black & white TV because that’s the way you did it growing up?
    or plow your feilds with a horse? Come on guys grow up and be a man! things change, accept them and go hunting! It works in the other states, lets be open minded and give it a try! And for those who think posting their land will solve the problem or can use that for leverage, GOOOO ! for it. but don’t come whining when the deer or woodchucks eat your crops or invade your gardens or eat your pretty little bushes.
    And don’t even think about killing more deer than you have tags for unless you are dishonest. Think about it. are you as wrong in the eyes of others? Look what happened in California with the mountian lions. I say hurray for all those good hunters and legislators!!!

  5. LeRoy

    All have good points. but the tag should be a on or off thing what ever you want to do with it sometimes I have to put it in my pocket so i don’t loose it in the brush i crawl through. so most of the time I have it pined on and it’s not a problem. so I say put it on or take it off, should not be a law saying it should be on your back.

  6. Sargento

    Meaningless crap. We have a failing deer plan that is the worst in the nation and all the legislators are worried about addressing is whether or not we are "inconvenienced" by wearing our licenses? UNREAL.

  7. ron hewitt

    I live in Wi and hope they never do away with back tags here, they have been used to get killers and pouchers. Lost one tag in 60 years of hunting rifle & bow.

  8. ted

    I wish Michigan would go back to the back tag.I Unfortunatly, Know of several people, who wait till they have game down to buy a tag . I belive This is a growing trend if not the norm for younger hunters that never wore a back tag.

  9. Tom

    Good bye to the back tag. Always been a pain. Never did like poking holes in a good goretex coat that didn’t have loops on the back. Switch coats and forget to switch the license your now illegal. If the state advances a little more we will be able to print all licenses we need on one paper and just put it your wallet.

  10. Brian Johnson

    What the %$#@ is a back tag and why would you need one. The game warden is gonna screw up your hunting any way when he comes to your stand and ask for your id and license.

  11. mjp

    Live in WI but hunt in MI. They have not used back tags for years! The tags are now wallet size and the tag would be too small to be of any value as long range ID. Have no problem with either method.

  12. Mike

    I moved from PA to WV in 1996. I felt weird with no backtag when hunting, but I soon got used to it. All my licence (hunting and fishing) could be with me in my wallet all the time. Deer tags can be easily downloaded from our DNR site and I don’t miss the big safety pin holder on my back at all.

  13. Dean R

    I hunt in NY and PA and support PA’s move to not require back tags — they tear up my hunting jackets and shirts when caught on tree bark and do not really protect my licenses in rain or snow. Also, there is nothing like the frustration of having a buck look straight up at you when the tag holder makes noise when you pull away from the tree to get ready for a shot. I am saying a little prayer that Rep. Gillespie or some other brave legislator in PA pushes to remove the restriction on Sunday hunting — even just to let us hunt pheasant or something on Sunday other than coyotes and crows.

  14. Dean R

    I hunt in NY and PA and support PA’s move to not require back tags — they tear up my hunting jackets and shirts when caught on tree bark and do not really protect my licenses in rain or snow. Also, there is nothing like the frustration of having a buck look straight up at you when the tag holder makes noise when you pull away from the tree to get ready for a shot. I am saying a little prayer that Rep. Gillespie or some other brave legislator in PA pushes to remove the restriction on Sunday hunting — even just to let us hunt pheasant or something on Sunday other than coyotes and crows.

  15. Dean R

    I hunt in NY and PA and support PA’s move to not require back tags — they tear up my hunting jackets and shirts when caught on tree bark and do not really protect my licenses in rain or snow. Also, there is nothing like the frustration of having a buck look straight up at you when the tag holder makes noise when you pull away from the tree to get ready for a shot. I am saying a little prayer that Rep. Gillespie or some other brave legislator in PA pushes to remove the restriction on Sunday hunting — even just to let us hunt pheasant or something on Sunday other than coyotes and crows.

  16. Keith

    I never lost a back tag in 20yrs.misplaced that little paper 2 times.you can’t tell if someone has one or not without asking them 4 it. Wish Maryland still had the back tag

  17. John M

    I have generally trusted the Game Commission’s judgement on most of their policy issues. However, on this issue, I am not sure that I agree. The back tag is the best way to identify a game violator without directly confronting them and risking an altercation. A visable back tag is a deterrent to some would be violators.

  18. rich

    Agree back tags get in way and are inconvenient, as far as the maniac a couple of years ago, that was just a way to help catch the killer, this happens how many times where the perpetrator didn’t have a back tag on. if this is the only reason to have them lets get back tags for everyone! guilty until proven innocent

  19. Steve

    I know that the reason for back tags is the same as it is for license tags on cars — so that an observer can make identification. And I know that in some cases, back tag numbers have been beneficial. But several times I’ve lost mine. Fortunately, I found it again. Once my holder tore and I didn’t know it. My license came out. The wind was blowing as I crossed a field, and along came someone’s back tag. I picked it up and it was mine. That’s one time I wouldn’t have found it if the wind hadn’t been blowing strong and in the right direction.

    Back tags are usually very difficult to read, and with the new license format they’re almost impossible to read. So, I’m for doing away with them.

  20. revdjd

    Why the change, simply because the gentlemen who sponsored the bill wants it to be so? Yes, it is an old tradition but so what? In the many years I’ve hunted I have never lost a back tag holder. So far, I haven’t read a reasonable, solid reason making the change necessary. The only reasons that I have read for making the change is that it is "old" "a waste of time/money or "traditional" ……and???? Has anyone asked why the law of a back tag was instituted in the first place? There must have been a solid reason that it was done so. I will continue to use a back tag even if it no longer required.

  21. Bill B

    In Wisconsin, We wear back tags. I can see keeping them for Gun Deer season and eliminating them for Bow hunting. It seems I am constantly moving my tag from my jacket to my harness to keep it VISIBLE….Really.. Come on, I’m wearing camo and shooting close range. Turkey hunters don’t need back tags.

  22. Frank Deak

    No, I think a back a tag is a good way to keep folks honest. If a resident sees a voilator his number is displayed. If he has no tag he’s truely breaking the law, at least you know he has purchased a license. Imagine driving down the road with cars which have no tag on it! The reason we have all the hunting laws is because people have done some really dumb things.

  23. Mike Andrews

    Back tags are a part of the Wisconsin tradition. It was a backtag that caught the murderer when he killed all those hunters in Northern Wisconsin. Without it he would of been just another hunter that would of escaped back to where he came from.

  24. BuzGuy

    WRONG! Such a change will mean now the criminals will hunt without paying for licenses or doe tags. This is a good regulation that needs no improvement except maybe for property owners hunting on their own land… possibly including leaseholders and private hunting clubs at their own discretion?

  25. Justin

    How are the a waste of time and money, your license is still being purchased at the same price and being printed on the same amount of paper for your harvest tags. My back tag has always been pinned to my backpack and has never been a bother to me at all. This will change nothing.

  26. jeff albert

    As a native Pennsylvanian who has lived in Mo. fo 30 years now…I’m good with the back tag thing. I only wish the state would adopt Sunday hunting as well. What a difference it makes when you only have wekends to hunt. I love tradition but Sundays won’t hurt a thing.

  27. Jason H

    Back tags are inconvenient and outdated? Try telling that to the two people who were saved from that maniac in Wisconsin a few years ago…the guy who killed six of their hunting partners. The only way they caught him was because they wrote down his backtag number in the dust on an idle ATV.

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