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Deer Hunters Relieved Over Semi-Automatic Weapons Law Change

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STROUDSBURG -- Rifle deer hunting season ended in December, but talks about the sport are being brought back up.

On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Game Commission made a last-minute change and decided not to legalize semi-automatic rifles for hunting big game like deer, black bear, elk, and turkey.

The change is a relief to some hunters like Alex Sotak from Stroudsburg.

"I think it's a great thing that they didn't pass it because it will keep population numbers going up and that's good for the area," said Sotak.

Last November, Governor Wolf lifted the ban on semi-automatic rifles for hunting.

The Game Commission gave preliminary approval to use semi-automatic rifles for big and small game back in January.

After further review, officials decided to only legalize the semi-automatic guns for small game.

"Most people don't see semi-automatic as something you need for big game," said William Broderick, a worker at Dunkleburger's Sports Outfitters.

Many of the hunters we spoke to are in agreement with the Game Commission's decision to remove large game from the list. Some other hunters we spoke to don't think semi-automatic rifles and hunting mix at all.

Robert Wetmore from Stroudsburg doesn't think the state should mess with tradition at all. He believes the use of semi-automatic rifles on any animal takes away from the experience.

"Where is the fun in just being able to shoot and you're going to get it. You're losing the whole thing. It's supposed to be a seek and destroy mission here. Where are you going? You're just going to destroy here. You're going to just destroy. It just doesn't make any sense, especially small animals. What are you going to eat after you shoot it?" said Wetmore.

Rifle season begins again in the fall.


  • Sasquatch

    It’s amazing how many people pull a trigger a half dozen to a dozen times of year and suddenly they are firearms “experts” and impress little kids and old ladies ….

  • Sasquatch

    I guess its a good time as any to buy that Barrett model 95 .50 BMG deer rifle I been wanting ……..if it’s brown its down !!!!!!

  • Charles Whitman

    I bought a semi- auto crossbow last year and shot 27 deer, 5 bears, and 19 turkeys. Did it all in a 3 week period. Can hardly wait for spring gobbler season.

  • Five rounds are five rounds

    The headline of the article should read: “Several random people in local sporting goods store don’t know what they’re talking about”.

  • Hiram Walker

    Most bolt actions, lever actions and pumps have the capacity to hold 5 rounds anyway, that if you should need more than one shot, you have more at your disposal, and it’s all part of hunting to jack in another round if you have time, etc. That’s what makes memories too…running deer across a field-shoot, reload, shoot again if need be. I believe if a semi auto bill passed, it would let more flatlanders and people in the woods that aren’t as disciplined as they should be. I hunt with a Ruger #1, I practice and feel it’s my responsibility to be a good shot for the animal’s sake and the other hunters in the field as well.

  • Rick

    Who cares. When is the government going to do something important in this backward ass state like sell beer in the grocery store lol.

  • Rich Banks

    Hysteria over nothing. I’m from upstate NY. Where semi’s have been legal, forever…. Guess what? No more negligent shootings than Pa. As is usual, fantasy and conjecture have prevailed over reality where hunting regs are concerned. What a shame.

  • mike

    These poeople think semi autos are dangerous. I wold want a semi auto then a Remington 700 that gun has killed more hunters and shooters then any gun from it deadly safety. The PGC is a joke they told us they were only doing mag restrictions and backstabe us hunters fur trapping with a semiauto and small game I hardly know any people that do that in my area.

  • Chuck

    Correct … know when non hunters see people carrying what they perceive to be assault rifles they would be offended. Offended to the point of starting some type of trouble with the Game Commission . Remember the protesters at the Bear Check Stations? This has the potential of being worse.

    • Anthoni Rossi

      Here’s the problem man. Whether we like it or not, we NEED hunter numbers to stay at a certain level. If not, we loose voting power. We are already a VAST minority of the populations. Only about 5%. Our numbers are beginning to dwindle, which sounds good, but it’s not. If Semi auto rifles brings in a new group of hunters who wanted an AR, M1a, BAR, etc then let them in. Our average age is getting older and older.

  • john evans

    So how is 4000 a significant percent of hunters in the state. I dont they see most gun company’s making ar15 then bolt and lever guns because the are more useful I don’t even see weaver scope mount any more.

  • Lloyd Schmucatelli

    A good hunter only needs one shot anyway. Although I wouldn’t mind throwing a few extra rounds at one if the need should arise.

    One to drop the deer and a few into the tree next to it just to piss off some libtards.

  • get it right

    Good for you. So being ‘retired military’ gives you a ‘bye’ when you espouse your opinion and someone doesn’t agree with you? The booming MSR industry and millions of consumers of those weapons would like to disagree with you too. I know lots of retired military folks Sol, not all of them are knights in shiny armor. Some are idiots that should have had their arses handed to them but somehow managed to survive from being killed by their own team.

  • get it right

    So Sol, what vehicle do you drive for normal everyday use? For that matter, why even have a car or electricity? The Amish get by quite well without either. Would you even know an ‘assault rifle’ versus a semi-auto if you held it in your hands? Of course, if you make it illegal to own such vicious killing machines the criminals and warlords will just hand theirs over, right? The world would be safer place without cars, airplanes, natural gas, ladders, and knives too. So, when the good people in the military and law enforcement retire they should hand over their weapons then, right? Tool.

  • get it right

    “Where is the fun in just being able to shoot and you’re going to get it. You’re losing the whole thing. It’s supposed to be a seek and destroy mission here. Where are you going? You’re just going to destroy here. You’re going to just destroy.” Please tell us how a semi-automatic removes the ‘seek’ element? Not sure about you, Jersey Jim, but I would rather take my game with ‘one shot and get it’ rather than hear the 30-30’s from Bayonne empty their tubular magazines.

    • Lou

      Who are you to tell me how to hunt? I personally don’t feel it’s sporting shooting a rifle from 100-200 yards away but I’m not gonna tell you not to, I’m gonna keep bow hunting and support my fellow sportsman

      • It's because I'm black, isn't it?

        Whoosh – the sound of that comment going over your head. You’re going to support your fellow sportsmen. Exactly what does that mean?

  • CB

    And the title should read a few Deer Hunters relieved because all the ones ive talked to either wanted it to pass OR didnt care…not a single one said..WOW thank god that didnt pass..

  • tom

    First off I am sure the gentlemen/ladies responding that they would like to be able to hunt big game with semi automatic rifle’s are the same individuals who are the ones that want Sunday hunting and are the same people who claim that they are not seeing enough deer in the woods when they are hunting. Yes people do shoot quickly with lever, bolt, and pump action rifle’s however they are the same people who are wounding and wasting a valuable resource being the game itself. Maybe the people who think they need a semi to hunt deer should just spend a little more time on the range practicing prior to the season instead of the weekend before the opener and they would be able to make the first shot count, and pay attention in the woods so they are not caught off guard either would help with making a quick kill without having to shoot multiple times. I for one as you can tell am happy about this decision, one must take into account that a lot of these other states that allow semi’s for big game do not have the amount of open public land (if any) as we do here in PA, which allows the landowner to regulate the amount of hunters hunting at any given time which makes for a safe hunt, unfortunately I do not have very much faith in my fellow hunters to make rational decisions with a semi for big game, how could I after all when other so called hunters will not think twice about stealing a trail cam or a tree stand that a guy left in the woods so he didn’t have to carry it back in the next time he hunted how can you rely on them to make a wise decision when it comes to pulling the trigger multiple times. By the way Allen there are not too many deer in the woods unless you live next to a private development.

    • get it right

      So you still use a recurve or muzzloader exclusively then? After all, our forefathers and the indigenous peoples of this land needed nothing more to put food on the table. If you presently hunt with a compound or crossbow or use a cartridge style long gun with telescopic sights, there’s a word for people like you: it’s called ‘hypocrite’. You automatically (no pun intended) assume people will fire wantonly until the gun is empty. If you’ve spent any amount of time in the woods you know that’s already the case. I own several MSR’s along with some other semi’s – and I would still carry my trusted bolt-action for big game if the did allow them. Guess what, I’m not for Sunday hunting but if it passes, guess what I’m going to do? Not hunt.

      • RicU.

        While we differ on Sunday hunting, I applaud your responsible attitude. However, be it bolt, lever, pump or semi-auto, many do shoot until empty making hunting more dangerous. I still support the governor here.

      • get it right

        Five rounds in a Gamemaster are just as dangerous as five rounds in a Bushmaster in the hands of an unsafe or unethical hunter. Moot point though.

  • Walt

    Well Robert Wetmore, I hope you are only using a spear to hunt big game. Where is the sport in your high powered bolt action rifle that will send 5 or more at bambi? Or your lever action repeating rifle? Maybe they should only allow knives for big game. You clearly don’t understand modern weaponry. You have been drinking too much Koolaide. All they had to do was to limit clip size.

      • Walt

        You are 100% right that clip and magazine are two completely different things, but it doesn’t change the fact that limiting MAGAZINE size would have been all they would have needed here. It’s not about slinging as many projectiles in the shortest amount of time as the kool-aid drinkers will have you believe. Thanks for the correction on terms though.

  • Allen

    Wouldn’t bother me if they were ALL shot dead. There’s an overpopulation of deer in most NEPA counties anyway!… Try planting a garden without it being destroyed or driving down the road without having to slam on your brakes every half mile.. you practically have to get out to push them out of the road with all the people feeding and domesticating them. To city people they’re “beautiful animals”,.. but to most people who live here year round, deer are nothing more than over-sized rats.

  • RicU.

    Written by an unfriendly media, they don’t know a semi auto fires each time you pull the trigger and requires no mechanical action be it lever or pump or bolt I am just glad they didn’t call a crossbow an assault weapon.

    The number of injuries, damage to forests and plant life and vehicles due to the over population of deer, bear and others is increasing. This is a good decision by the Governor.

  • Erik Latranyi

    There is no difference between a semi-automatic rifle and a lever or pump action rifle except the mechanism. Many current hunters using lever action and pump action rifles shoot rapidly and repeatedly at deer in the same way a hunter would when using a semi-automatic.

    Other states allow the use of semi-automatic rifles safely and effectively. There are no negatives except bursting the narrative that semi-automatics are somehow more dangerous than any other rifle.

    • Lou

      If anything I rather see a guy shooting a semi concentrating on shooting in a safe direction over a guy fumbling with the action of the gun.

  • John Bordonaro

    I think this decision is ridiculous. Let’s get with the times, this is just like the crossbow debacle of years ago. We hunters have to ban together and realize it isn’t our weapon of choice that keeps traditions alive, it’s recruiting new, younger hunters and instilling our core values. And to say hunters using semi-autos will open up sounding like WW3 is absurd but not as stupid as saying semi- autos ruin more meat on an animal. Why do we side with the anti gunners? I probably wouldn’t use a semi auto but this is crazy.

  • G

    ““Where is the fun in just being able to shoot and you’re going to get it. You’re losing the whole thing. It’s supposed to be a seek and destroy mission here. Where are you going? You’re just going to destroy here. You’re going to just destroy. It just doesn’t make any sense, especially small animals. What are you going to eat after you shoot it?” said Wetmore.”

    What does that even mean? What do these people think semi-autos are? Semi-autos are just a different type of action for a firearm. A semi .308 and a bolt action .308 fire the same bullet, if anything the bolt action will have slight amount more energy. Therefore the bolt action will “destroy” more meat. The amount of ignorance on this topic is disgusting. Congratulations GC for keeping PA in the dark ages.

    All these old fudds continue to ruin a great state.

    • mac

      These old fudds ruin everything. I f this was 1930 they would have banned telescopic scopes my area is full of them but they buy new scopes and find out that they don’t fit on old weaver mount is so funny.

    • CB

      Thats just it..I think a lot in PA think this(semi autos not being used is “normal”) is the norm…its one of the places with the exception its not the norm… and for all the people yelling about it its kinda like…you realize PA is pretty much the only state that doesnt allow them….so most of the arguments against are pretty lame as they have not effected the other 49 states that allow them..

    • CB

      this is a very unintelligent comment…a semi auto bullet destroys no more meat than a single shot or a bolt action ….you shoot the EXACT SAME bullet out of each destroys nothing more or less than any other bullet or gun.

    • Walt

      Explain to me how it destroys any more meat than a 223 bolt action rifle? Same caliber as 223 AR15. THESE ARE SEMI-AUTOMATIC GUNS FOLKS. Pull trigger fire once. Same as bolt action. Both take a competent marksman.

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