Results of a Right to Know Law Request to the PA Game Commission Regarding Their Survey of Hunters and Semi-automatics for Big Game Hunting


Recently, after I blogged about the list of approved animals to hunt with a semi-automatic in PA, I submitted a Right to Know Law request to the PA Game Commission.

I sought records which included the survey itself, any and all responses, and documents relating to the selection of those who would receive the survey, information (age, county) of the individual completing the survey.

The cost to produce the records I requested would be almost $400, as there were an estimated 1,473 pages of records that were responsive to my request. I was informed that approximately 75% of the respondents returned the survey via the USPS, which accounted for the cost associated with the production of the records.

The Commission did furnish me with the responses that were returned electronically (523 responses). Please note, this only accounts for 1/4 of the total responses received.

I sent the responses I received to a fellow member on who is more well versed in decoding the information provided. He responded that “the sample, at least the observable portion, is rather skewed geographically and by age.”

He found that within the partial dataset there was a high degree of correlation between the ownership of a semi-automatic firearm and support and a high degree of non-ownership and strong opposition. Out of the 523 respondents that I received results for, less than 40% owned a semi-automatic rifle. It was further explained that opposition increased with age as well as counties that had the highest opposition rates also had the highest rate of response.

He also noted concerns relating to the sample population. In order to determine whether a representative sample of PA hunters were surveyed, we would need more information such as a summary detail on the CID pool from which the sample was drawn and populations by county with counts by age.

As for the methodology, I was told that the survey recipients were chosen via a SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) report that utilizes a data source based around a T-SQL query that makes use of the built-in NEWID function. Since, that stuff is a bit beyond my knowledge scope as to technology and databases, the response may have well have been in french.

The was it was explained to me was that, the “function assigns each distinct Customer ID (CID) number within the given parameters a randomly generated globally unique ID number.  An example of this ID looks like  6F9619FF-8B86-D011-B42D-00C04FC964FF.  These Customer ID numbers are sorted by the generated ID. The desired number of CID’s are taken from the top of the sorted list.  These randomly select CID’s are then joined with the associated demographic information.” 

As my technical resource notes

The sampling method used, (randomly assigning a Global ID and sorting in alphanumeric order)  is inherently flawed, as there is no way to ensure that the resulting sample is representative of the hunter population as a whole. The preferred method used throughout market research would be a “stratified random sample.”
By using county and age as strata, the PGC would have ensured, with 99% confidence, that the sample group was completely representative of the 900,000+ PA hunter population.
Choosing not to use this method, in conjunction with the vague statement “within given parameters,” indicates incompetence at best, or intent at worst.

I’d like to remind readers that I am only working with a portion of the data that the Commission received. Without the rest of the information, we are only looking at a small portion of the picture. But it does seem to raise questions as to the validity in which the survey was conducted.


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3 thoughts on “Results of a Right to Know Law Request to the PA Game Commission Regarding Their Survey of Hunters and Semi-automatics for Big Game Hunting

  1. I think the result was a predetermined result. They don’t want ANY semis, but since the law was passed they had to approve something.
    I’m not a hunter but I’m amazed that PA., has a coyote season. It is NOT natural animal to this state and more like a pest. I caught one trying to snatch a neighbor’s cat twice. I had to practically walk over and kick it to stop it stalking the kitty. I’ve never seen that cat after it disappeared a few weeks later.
    One of the people down the road lost their toy poodle. The coyote was never seen again. That loud noise from the area was a car backfire I’m sure.
    Just like almost anything in this state if the right “connected” person was for it, it would happen. I figure sometime after 2030 they’ll approved.
    You now some idiot will abuse the use of a semi-auto so the Game Commission will have to make an “example” out of some moron(s) blasting away with a .22 like an idiot and endangering anyone in the area. Hopefully once that happens the stupid will catch on and not cause problems often. Then maybe in 10 years they might reconsider. I’m not counting on it though.


    1. one has to remember that someone doing mag dumps on deer with a .22lr ar or something, would also be doing so regardless of the regulations on paper.
      they’re the same people that would poach. the same that cant be bothered to take hunter courses or purchase a license.
      i’d say the chance of an increase in incidents is negligible. maybe people keeping full mags instead of X limit if one were imposed would increase but no more or less than shotguns or bolts loaded over the limit.

      outside of hunting, the same situation applies, there is almost constant gunfire in my area on weekends, where it is both prohibited by HOA and the twp. (not that i approve of those regulations) so the same people will do it regardless of legality.

      we should have fully open seasons, no limits, on things like coyotes.


  2. When I heard that they voted against it, I sent a message to the commission suggesting they do a better survey like it be required to answer a couple of questions to buy your license. This will ensure I get a voice!


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