By Tom Beveridge. On November 27, 2013, Governor Corbett signed Senate Bill 763 into law which amends Section 2324 of Title 34 (commonly referred to as the Game and Wildlife Code) effectively eliminating the mandatory requirement of maintaining a “roster” of the individuals who are hunting deer, bear, elk or turkey “together or in unison or in any other manner cooperating with others”. However, rosters are still required during this hunting season as the new law does not take effect until January 26, 2014.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission has required hunting camps use rosters during deer and bear seasons for years. (See, 2013-2014 Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest, “Big Game Regulations”, p. 31). As presently enforced, the PGC requires any permanent camp which cooperates to drive deer or bear to maintain a roster in duplicate where five or more individuals hunt together. One copy of the roster must be carried by the drive leader (who must be properly identified thereon) and the other copy posted at the camp for 30 days following the end of the season. The roster must contain the year of the hunt; name, address, township and county of the camp; name of each member and his or her hunting license number. Additionally, this roster requires each hunter’s date of arrival at camp and departure therefrom, firearm caliber, and game harvested, if any. Assuming a deer or bear is taken, the roster must also contain the date harvested, sex and weight of the animal, and, if applicable, the number of antler points. 58 Pa. Code Sec. 141.42. Failure to properly maintain a roster is a summary offense of the seventh degree punishable by imposition of a $50.00 fine PER PERSON, plus court costs. 34 Pa. C.S. Sec. 925(b)(11); 58 Pa. Code Sec. 141.42(f).
Maintaining a roster can be cumbersome where different hunting camps commonly cooperate to drive large areas of hunting land. While the law allows only 25 individuals to hunt deer, bear or elk “together” (58 Pa. Code Sec. 141.42(e)), hunting camps which work together are required to maintain their own individual rosters, as well as a separate roster for the cooperative group drive or hunt. As many hunters come and go from camps during the seasons, such a requirement can become overly burdensome and take up quite a bit of wall space! In fact, because the law requires posting of the season’s rosters to be “open to inspection at any time” by a PGC Officer, most hunting camps simply tack rosters to the camp door or porch wall. Of course, it doesn’t take long for our Pennsylvania weather to wreak havoc on them – potentially opening the camp members to fines.
Under the new law, the PGC can still establish limitations to groups or parties hunting together for big game. However, the antiquated roster requirement has been removed from the law starting next year. I am sure we will see some new requirements similar to the old rosters for next season. At least for this season, keep your rosters up-to-date and available for inspection. Good luck and safe hunting!!