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Pennsylvania Deer Hunting Seasons

Pennsylvania offers a variety of deer hunting seasons, each with specific regulations and dates. Here is an overview of the deer hunting seasons for 2023:

Archery Season (Antlered & Antlerless)

  • Statewide: September 30 - November 17
  • Statewide: December 26 - January 15

Muzzleloader Season (Antlerless Only)

  • Statewide: October 14 - October 21

Special Firearms Season (Antlerless Only)

  • Statewide: October 19 - October 21
  • Note: This season is open to Junior & Senior license holders, Mentored license holders, active-duty military, and persons with a permit to use a vehicle as a blind.

Regular Firearms Season (Antlered & Antlerless)

  • Statewide: November 25 - December 9

Flintlock Season (Antlered & Antlerless)

  • Statewide: December 26 - January 15
  • WMUs 2B, 5C & 5D: December 26 - January 27

Extended Firearms Season (Antlerless Only)

  • WMUs 2B, 5C & 5D: December 26 - January 27

Important Notes:

  • Hunters are limited to one antlered deer per license year and one antlerless deer for each antlerless license or permit.
  • The dates mentioned are for the 2023 hunting season, and it's essential to check for any updates or changes in regulations from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

License Requirements for Pennsylvania Deer Hunting

To participate in deer hunting in Pennsylvania for the 2023 season, hunters must adhere to specific license requirements. Here is a summary of the license requirements:

  1. General Hunting License: A general hunting license is required for all hunters to participate in any deer hunting season.

  2. Antlered Deer: With a general hunting license, hunters can take one antlered deer per license year.

  3. Antlered Tag for Antlerless Deer: Hunters can use an unused antlered deer harvest tag from a general hunting license to take an antlerless deer during the after-Christmas flintlock muzzleloader season. This is the only season where the antlered tag can be used for antlerless deer. Each participant in the flintlock muzzleloader season must also have a muzzleloader license in addition to a general license.

  4. Muzzleloader License: A muzzleloader license is required to participate in the October muzzleloader season for antlerless deer.

  5. Antlerless Deer License or DMAP Permit: Except for the flintlock muzzleloader season, each hunter must possess an antlerless deer license or DMAP permit to hunt or harvest antlerless deer. One antlerless deer may be taken with each valid license or permit.

  6. Maximum Antlerless Deer Licenses: Statewide, each hunter is limited to holding a maximum of six unfilled antlerless deer licenses. Hunters who obtain six antlerless licenses may apply for and obtain additional licenses as they harvest antlerless deer and report them, as long as licenses remain available. Sales of antlerless licenses for each Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) end when the total number of licenses allocated for that WMU is expended.

  7. Special Firearms Season: The Special Firearms season for antlerless deer is open to junior and senior license holders, mentored youth, active-duty military, and certain disabled persons.

  8. Senior Hunter Exemptions: Resident and nonresident hunters who hold a valid hunting license or qualify for fee exemptions and are 65 years of age or will reach their 65th birthday in the year of the license application are eligible to hunt in the season.

  9. Archery License: Participants in any archery deer season must possess an archery license in addition to a general license.

Deer Tagging Regulations for Pennsylvania Hunters

Hunters in Pennsylvania must adhere to specific regulations for tagging deer after harvesting them. Here are the key rules and guidelines for tagging deer:

  1. Detaching the Tag: After harvesting a deer, the hunter must detach the deer harvest tag from their license.

  2. Tag Filling: The hunter should fill out the deer harvest tag using a ballpoint pen. It's essential to use the correct tag and avoid attaching the actual hunting license. The harvest tags are identifiable by animal icons on them.

  3. Tag Attachment: The completed harvest tag must be securely attached to the deer's ear. There are two holes in the center of the tag that can be punched to insert a string, twist tie, or safety pin. The tagging must be done before moving the deer carcass.

  4. Tag Duration: The tag must remain attached to the deer's ear until the animal is processed for consumption or prepared for mounting. When submitting a sample for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) testing, the completed harvest tag should remain with the head. The harvested deer carcass can still be transported for processing once the head has been submitted for testing.

  5. High-Risk Parts: All high-risk parts must be removed before transporting the deer carcass out of any CWD Disease Management Area or the Established Area, unless it is destined for a cooperating processor or taxidermist.

  6. Bar Code Placement: The bar code on the right edge of the tag should be positioned near the ear tip, unobstructed. This allows Game Commission personnel to scan it if the deer is documented as part of work to calculate the annual statewide deer harvest.

  7. Tagging in the Ear: Hunters may wonder why the harvest tag must be attached to the deer's ear instead of an antler or other body part. This regulation ensures that the tag remains with the head, allowing valuable scientific information to be collected. If tagging on the antler were allowed, harvest-tag information for bucks would largely be unavailable to Game Commission researchers, as antlers typically leave the butcher shop with the hunter.

Arms and Ammunition Regulations for Deer Hunting in Pennsylvania

When it comes to hunting deer in Pennsylvania, hunters must adhere to specific regulations regarding the types of arms and ammunition that are allowed during different seasons. Here are the key regulations for arms and ammunition:

Archery Deer Seasons

  • Allowed Equipment: Hunters can use long, recurve, compound bows (with a minimum draw weight of 35 pounds), and crossbows equipped with broadheads of cutting-edge design. All arrows and crossbow bolts must be equipped with broadheads.
  • Scopes and Sights: Magnifying scopes and red-dot sights are permitted on crossbows.
  • Broadhead Requirements: Broadheads are required and must be a fixed or mechanical tip affixed to the front end of an arrow or bolt with sharpened cutting edges consisting of metal or naturally occurring stone. The broadhead must have an outside diameter or width of at least 7/8 of an inch, and the length may not exceed 3.25 inches.
  • Firearm Possession: Hunters participating in archery seasons may not possess a firearm, except for individuals who hold a License to Carry Firearms permit, and even then, only authorized firearms as specified by the permit are allowed. Most sporting arms are not authorized.

Firearms Deer Seasons

  • Allowed Firearms: The following firearms are permitted during firearms deer seasons:
    • Manually operated centerfire rifles, handguns, and shotguns with all-lead bullets or balls, or bullets designed to expand on impact.
    • Semiautomatic centerfire shotguns that propel single-projectile ammunition.
    • Muzzleloading long guns of any type, .44 caliber or larger, or a muzzleloading handgun .50 caliber or larger.
    • Long, recurve, or compound bows and crossbows with broadheads of cutting-edge design.

October Antlerless Muzzleloader Season

  • Firearms Allowed: Hunters can use any single-barrel muzzleloading long gun with flintlock, in-line, or percussion ignition .44 caliber or larger, or a .50 caliber or larger handgun. Encapsulated propellant charge firearms that load from the breech are also allowed, with bullets loaded from the muzzle. Scope sights are permitted.
  • Carrying Archery Gear: Muzzleloader hunters can carry archery gear if they possess an archery license and meet necessary fluorescent orange requirements.

Special Antlerless Deer Only Firearms Season

  • Firearms Allowed: Arms and ammunition permitted during the Regular Firearms Deer Seasons can be used in this special season.

Flintlock Muzzleloader Season

  • Firearms Allowed: This season permits the use of flintlock ignition, single-barrel long guns .44 caliber or larger, or .50 caliber or larger handguns, using single-projectile ammunition. The use of telescopic sights is unlawful, but peep sights are permitted.

Fluorescent Orange Requirements for Deer Hunting in Pennsylvania

Fluorescent orange requirements are an important aspect of deer hunting safety in Pennsylvania. These regulations ensure visibility and safety during various deer hunting seasons. Here are the fluorescent orange requirements:

Antlered & Antlerless Seasons

  • Regular and Special Deer Seasons: During the regular and special deer seasons, as well as any extensions of these seasons, all hunters must wear at least 250 square inches of fluorescent orange on the head, chest, and back combined. This can be achieved, for example, by wearing an orange cap and a coat or vest with visibility from all sides. Camouflage fluorescent orange is acceptable if it contains a total of at least 250 square inches of orange content.

Archery Seasons

  • Archers: Fluorescent orange is not required while hunting for deer during archery seasons. However, hunters using archery equipment during regular firearms deer seasons must comply with fluorescent orange requirements. The previous regulations regarding varying amounts of orange during overlap periods for archery hunters have been eliminated. While not mandatory, the use of fluorescent orange is highly recommended for all seasons, whether required or not.

Muzzleloader Seasons

  • Late Flintlock Deer Season: During the late flintlock deer season, muzzleloader hunters are not required to wear or display fluorescent orange.
  • October Antlerless Muzzleloader Deer Season: Hunters participating in the October antlerless muzzleloader deer season must wear the same 250 square inches of fluorescent orange as required for all big-game season hunters.

Safe Driving and Shooting Practices During Hunts

Ensuring safety during hunting drives is paramount. Proper planning, communication, awareness, and discretion can prevent accidents and ensure a successful and secure hunting experience. Here are some key guidelines to follow:

1. Plan Your Drives

  • Organization: Prioritize organization. Assign roles to each participant so that everyone knows their responsibilities.
  • Driver Count: Determine the number of drivers needed for the drive and identify stander locations.

2. Maintain Communication

  • Constant Communication: Stay in continuous communication with other hunters, especially drivers, to keep track of their locations.
  • Prohibited Devices: The use of handheld radios or cell phones to alert others about the presence or movement of game or wildlife during a hunt is prohibited. Rely on non-electronic means of communication.

3. Know Your Zone

  • Awareness: Be fully aware of your zone of fire. Identify safe shooting areas in front of you and remain vigilant as these areas change while you move.

4. Exercise Caution

  • Err on the Side of Caution: If faced with a split-second decision regarding the safety of taking a shot, prioritize caution. Refrain from shooting if you have any doubts about safety.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Update

Stay Informed about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Pennsylvania

For the latest information on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Pennsylvania, including restrictions within Pennsylvania's Disease Management Areas (DMAs) and its Established Area (EA), as well as disease management efforts, please refer to the purple section below.

Additionally, updated maps of the state's DMAs and EA can be accessed at www.pgc.pa.gov/CWD.

It's crucial for hunters and wildlife enthusiasts to stay informed about CWD to help manage and mitigate its impact on Pennsylvania's deer population. Visit the provided website for the most up-to-date information on this important issue.

Antler Restrictions

Understanding Antler Restrictions in Pennsylvania

It's essential for hunters to be aware of antler restrictions in Pennsylvania to ensure compliance with the regulations. Below are the key points related to antler restrictions:

General Antler Restrictions

  • Junior License Holders, Mentored Youth, Disabled Hunters with a Permit to Use a Vehicle, and Resident Active Duty U.S. Armed Services Personnel: These individuals can harvest antlered deer with two or more points on one antler or a spike three or more inches in length.
Pennsylvania Hunting Laws & Regulations

Point Definition

  • A point is defined as any antler projection, including the brow tine, that is at least one inch in length from base to tip. The brow tine refers to the point immediately above the antler burr.
  • The main beam tip is counted as a point, regardless of its length.

Antlerless Deer

  • An antlerless deer is defined as a deer without antlers or a deer with antlers, both of which are less than 3 inches in length.

Pennsylvania Hunting Laws & Regulations

 

New Process for Obtaining Antlerless Deer Licenses in 2023-24

Hunters in Pennsylvania will need to be aware of the all-new process for obtaining antlerless deer licenses in the 2023-24 hunting season. Here are the key details of the updated process:

License Purchase

  • Method: Hunters will no longer apply for antlerless licenses by mail. Instead, they can simply purchase an antlerless license for the Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) of their choice, as long as licenses for that WMU are still available.
  • Sales Locations: Antlerless licenses can be purchased at any location where hunting licenses are sold. However, certain hunters who qualify for landowner, military, or disabled veteran licenses may have specific locations to obtain their licenses.

Sales Dates

  • Start Date: Antlerless deer license sales will commence on the first day of general hunting license sales, which is Monday, June 26. Sales will begin at 8 a.m. on that day.
  • Eligibility: Initially, only Pennsylvania resident hunters are eligible to purchase antlerless deer licenses. Sales to nonresidents will start two weeks later.

Purchase Limits

  • Initial Limit: In the first round of sales, all hunters are limited to purchasing just one antlerless license.
  • Maximum Limit: Hunters cannot exceed a total of three antlerless licenses by the close of the third round of sales.
  • Additional Licenses: In the fourth round of sales, hunters can buy additional licenses to reach their personal limit of six unfilled antlerless deer licenses.

Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) Permits

  • Sales Date: Sales of Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permits will not begin until the third round of antlerless license sales, starting on Monday, August 14, at 8 a.m.

Antlerless License Sales Schedule

In the 2023-24 hunting season, Pennsylvania has introduced a new process for obtaining antlerless deer licenses. Hunters are no longer required to apply for antlerless licenses by mail; instead, they can simply purchase them for their preferred Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) as long as licenses are available. Here is the sales schedule for antlerless licenses:

Round 1 - Monday, June 26

  • Sales begin at 8 a.m. on June 26.
  • Open exclusively to Pennsylvania residents.
  • Each hunter can purchase one antlerless license in this round.

Round 2 - Monday, July 10

  • Sales begin at 8 a.m. on July 10.
  • Open to all license buyers, including nonresidents.
  • Hunters can continue to purchase one antlerless license in this round.

Round 3 - Monday, July 24

  • Sales begin at 8 a.m. on July 24.
  • Open to all license buyers.
  • Hunters can still purchase one antlerless license in this round.

Round 4 - Monday, Aug. 14

  • Sales begin at 8 a.m. on Aug. 14.
  • Open to all license buyers.
  • In this round, hunters can buy additional licenses to reach their personal limit of six unfilled antlerless deer licenses.

Round 5 - Monday, Aug. 28

  • Sales begin at 8 a.m. on Aug. 28.
  • Open to all license buyers.

Personal License Limits

Hunters in Pennsylvania have specific limits on the number of antlerless deer licenses they can obtain for the deer hunting seasons. Here are the details:

  • All hunting license holders are eligible to obtain up to six antlerless deer licenses before the start of the deer hunting seasons.
  • No hunter may hold more than six unfilled antlerless licenses at a time.
  • Those who hold mentored hunting permits (different from hunting licenses) may obtain only one antlerless deer license in a license year.

The allocation of antlerless deer licenses in each Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) is determined by the Game Commission based on scientific data about deer populations. Since the number of available licenses is limited, it's possible that licenses for some WMUs may sell out before the later rounds of sales begin.

As a result, most hunters may not reach their personal limit of six unfilled antlerless deer licenses. However, hunters who obtain six antlerless deer licenses may buy additional licenses if they harvest deer and report them through HuntFishPA.

Hunters who report their harvests online through HuntFishPA.gov or by calling the Customer Support line at 1-800-838-4431 instantly become eligible to purchase another license if any are available. Those who report by mail will not be eligible to buy another license until their report is logged.

Antlerless License Sales Locations

When it comes to purchasing antlerless deer licenses in Pennsylvania, here are the available locations:

  • Resident and nonresident antlerless deer licenses can be bought at various places, including:

    • Issuing agents (such as sporting goods stores, gun shops, and big-box retailers)
    • County Treasurer offices
    • Game Commission offices
    • Online at HuntFish.PA.gov
  • Resident Disabled Veteran and Resident Armed Forces Antlerless Deer Licenses are exclusively available at:

    • County Treasurer offices
    • Game Commission offices
  • Resident Disabled Veteran antlerless deer licenses are now accessible to Disabled Veterans with a disability rating of 60-99% through Veterans Affairs.

  • Resident and nonresident Landowner Antlerless Deer Licenses must be obtained at a County Treasurer office. Landowners interested in these licenses should contact their local County Treasurer for address information and hours of operation.

Applying for Landowner Antlerless Deer Licenses

Here's a breakdown of the process for applying for Landowner Antlerless Deer Licenses:

Timing and Availability

Week 3 of June

  • Landowner antlerless deer licenses are available during the third week of June.
  • Applications should be made on a Monday, unless it's a state-observed holiday.

Apply Early

  • It's recommended to apply before the regular application period begins, which starts on the fourth Monday in June.

County Treasurer Application

Direct Application

  • Applicants must apply directly to the County Treasurer of the county where their qualifying acreage is located.

WMU Selection

Multiple WMUs

  • If the qualifying acreage is situated within a county that encompasses two or more Wildlife Management Units (WMUs), the applicant can choose the specific WMU they prefer.

Mail-in Application

Alternative Application Method

  • For those unable to apply in person, a mail-in application option is available.
  • The submission must include a completed application, the appropriate payment ($6.97 for residents, $26.97 for nonresidents), proof of ownership, and a Landowner Antlerless Deer License Application/Affidavit.
  • This application form can be obtained from County Treasurers, Game Commission offices, or www.pgc.pa.gov.

Return Envelope

Mailing Instructions

  • Applicants using the mail-in option should include a self-addressed, stamped return envelope.
  • It's essential not to send antlerless license requests directly to the Game Commission

Disabled Veteran Antlerless Deer Licenses

Here's the information regarding Disabled Veteran Antlerless Deer Licenses:

Eligibility

  • Qualified resident applicants must have a service-incurred disability rated between 60-100%.
  • Eligibility also extends to individuals who have lost the use of one or more limbs.

Application Process

Applying Locations

  • Eligible residents can apply for this license at any County Treasurer or Game Commission office.

WMU Selection

Choice of WMU

  • Applicants can select the Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) in which they desire to hunt.

License Limit

Single Tag Guaranteed

  • Regardless of allocations or application deadlines, each eligible applicant is guaranteed only one antlerless deer tag per license year.

Armed Forces Resident Antlerless Deer Licenses

Here's the information regarding Armed Forces Resident Antlerless Deer Licenses:

Eligibility

  • Qualified residents must be serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Eligibility also extends to individuals within 60 days from an honorable discharge.

Application Process

Applying Locations

  • Eligible residents can apply for this license at any County Treasurer or Game Commission office.

WMU Selection

Choice of WMU

  • Applicants can select the Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) in which they desire to hunt.

License Limit

Single Tag Guaranteed

  • Regardless of allocations or application deadlines, each eligible applicant is guaranteed only one antlerless deer license.

Antlerless Deer License Regulations

Here are the regulations for antlerless deer licenses:

License Specific to WMU

  • Antlerless deer licenses are Wildlife Management Unit (WMU)-specific.
  • An antlerless deer license is only valid in the WMU for which it is issued.
  • Attempting to use an antlerless license in another WMU is a violation of the law.

License Requirement for Harvest

  • All hunters must possess a valid antlerless deer license or permit to harvest an antlerless deer.
  • Exception: During the after-Christmas flintlock season, a properly licensed flintlock hunter can use their unused antlered tag to harvest an antlerless deer anywhere in the state.
  • Each additional antlerless deer harvested requires a WMU-specific antlerless license or a valid DMAP permit.

License Requirement for Archers and Muzzleloader Hunters

  • Archers must have a valid antlerless deer license or permit to harvest an antlerless deer.
  • Muzzleloader hunters must have a valid antlerless deer license or permit to participate in the antlerless-only muzzleloader deer season (Oct. 14-20).

License Requirement for Special Firearms Season

  • Junior and Senior license holders, Mentored Permit holders, Disabled Person Permit (to use a vehicle) holders, and Pennsylvania residents serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces must have a valid antlerless deer license or permit to participate in the antlerless-only Special Firearms season (Oct. 19-21).

Use Across Seasons

  • Once obtained, a properly licensed hunter may use an antlerless deer license in any season in which it is legal to harvest an antlerless deer.

Ear Tags

  • Each antlerless deer license includes its own ear tag.

Replacement Antlerless Deer Licenses

If you lose your antlerless deer license, you can obtain a replacement at any license sales location. Please note that replacement requests should not be mailed directly to the Game Commission.

Antlerless Deer License Allocation for 2023-24

Here is the allocation of antlerless deer licenses for the 2023-24 season in various Wildlife Management Units (WMUs), along with changes from the previous year and sell-out dates:

WMU 1A

  • Allocation: 46,000 (+3,000)
  • Sell-Out Date: 8/24

WMU 1B

  • Allocation: 37,000 (+3,000)
  • Sell-Out Date: 8/1

WMU 2A

  • Allocation: 46,000 (+7,000)
  • Sell-Out Date: 10/11

WMU 2B

  • Allocation: 53,000 (+4,000)
  • Sell-Out Date: N/A

WMU 2C

  • Allocation: 88,000 (+21,000)
  • Sell-Out Date: 10/7

WMU 2D

  • Allocation: 86,000 (+12,000)
  • Sell-Out Date: 9/12

WMU 2E

  • Allocation: 52,000 (+10,000)
  • Sell-Out Date: 9/30

WMU 2F

  • Allocation: 49,000 (+12,000)
  • Sell-Out Date: 8/2

WMU 2G*

  • Allocation: 35,000 (+4,000)
  • Sell-Out Date: 7/18

WMU 3A

  • Allocation: 21,000 (+2,000)
  • Sell-Out Date: 8/1

WMU 3B

  • Allocation: 32,000 (-1,000)
  • Sell-Out Date: 8/5

WMU 3C

  • Allocation: 40,000 (+3,000)
  • Sell-Out Date: 8/15

WMU 3D

  • Allocation: 41,000 (+/- 0)
  • Sell-Out Date: 9/22

WMU 4A

  • Allocation: 61,000 (+11,000)
  • Sell-Out Date: N/A

WMU 4B

  • Allocation: 46,000 (+12,000)
  • Sell-Out Date: 8/17

WMU 4C

  • Allocation: 32,000 (+1,000)
  • Sell-Out Date: 8/2

WMU 4D

  • Allocation: 77,000 (+22,000)
  • Sell-Out Date: 9/13

WMU 4E

  • Allocation: 54,000 (+12,000)
  • Sell-Out Date: 8/18

WMU 5A

  • Allocation: 40,000 (+9,000)
  • Sell-Out Date: 11/1

WMU 5B

  • Allocation: 60,000 (+/- 0)
  • Sell-Out Date: 9/12

WMU 5C

  • Allocation: 70,000 (+/- 0)
  • Sell-Out Date: 10/11

WMU 5D

  • Allocation: 29,000 (+/- 0)
  • Sell-Out Date: 11/28
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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.