HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM)– The state’s game commission said its new online licensing system would “modernize and simplify” getting licensed, but thousands of hunters were frustrated by long waits when it rolled out in June.
Just off Hunter Lane, lives hunter Rob Heim.
“So, this is one that I got with my nephew in Clearfield County two years ago,” Heim said showing a rare 9-point buck.
Although Heim says he’s more likely to bag a doe which is why he tried to bag a doe license the first day they were on sale, using the state’s new online system.
“I was 48,000th in line,” Heim said. “I think it took about 10 hours to progress through the website and finally was able to make the purchase.”
Heim was one of 166,000 to get a license on day one. That number was just 30,000 last year. A first-day stampede that disappeared by day two.
“There were people who waited maybe 10 hours for a license and people the next day who were getting a license in 5 minutes,” PA Game Commission spokesman Travis Lau said. “And it’s the same license.”
Because doe licenses are limited and it’s first come first served, hunters were spooked into thinking they needed to get them right away. Turns out they didn’t, and Lau says, like the sport itself, patience pays off.
“What we’re hoping to see is there won’t be a ten-hour wait next year because we’ll have hunters voluntarily waiting on their own for an easier time for them to buy,” Lau said.
“We clearly were not prepared,” Senator Greg Rothman (R-Cumberland/Dauphin/Perry) said.
Rothman chairs the Game and Fisheries Committee and heard from lots of angry hunters.
“You can go on Amazon and buy something to have it delivered this afternoon,” Rothman said. “We ought to have the same. The hunters deserve that in Pennsylvania.”
Heim was happy to get his licenses this week but wonders why they’re coming from a business in another state. He researched the company.
“They have locations in many different states, but Pennsylvania’s not one of them,” Heim said. “But that’s who Pennsylvania chose to do business with. I think Pennsylvania money should stay in Pennsylvania.”
However, that is not as easy to do.
“As a government agency, we’re limited to go with the lowest bidder,” Lau said.
Lau says that’s Tyler Technologies of Texas which has a 10-year deal and gets 97 cents a license and is good for a couple of million dollars a year. He says no Pennsylvania companies angled for the business.
While acknowledging things have gotten better recently, Senator Rothman promises a hearing in the fall to find out what went wrong and why.