HARRISBURG - A day of deer hunting in Pennsylvania will last a half-hour longer under regulations given preliminary approval yesterday by the board of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The board wants to extend most seasons, including the deer season, until a half-hour after sunset instead of requiring all hunting to end when the sun goes down.

"Hunters supported it very much, through public comment. It is, for some species - most notably deer - a time when wildlife becomes most active," agency spokesman Jerry Feaser said.

A program that permits children under 12 to hunt with a properly licensed adult "mentor" will be expanded to include antlered deer hunting. Other game allowed under the program are squirrel, groundhog and spring gobbler. Staff members had recommended delaying the expansion of the program, but that idea drew protests from a number of people testifying at a meeting over the weekend.

The regulations require final approval in a vote in April.

The board opted not to change antler restrictions for the 2007-08 deer hunting season as well as expanded hunting in developed regions to reduce conflicts between deer and people.

"We're looking primarily in the southeastern part of the state, in Philadelphia and suburban counties, as well as in the western part of the state, Allegheny County and surrounding," Feaser said.

The board also gave preliminary approval for the concurrent antlered and antlerless rifle deer season for Nov. 26 to Dec. 8. A firearms antlerless deer season for junior and senior license-holders and other limited categories of hunters will be Oct. 18-20.

Black bear season will be Nov. 19-21, with other dates in certain parts of the state, and the September elk season was expanded to help combat farm damage.