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Pennsylvania Migratory Bird and Waterfowl Hunting Regulations

License Requirements for Hunting in Pennsylvania

General Hunting

  • Requirement: A general hunting license or mentored permit is needed for hunting.

Waterfowl Hunting (Persons 16 and Older)

  • Federal Duck Stamp:
    • Necessity: Required for hunting waterfowl.
    • Usage: Must be signed across the face and carried by the hunter.
    • Electronic Duck Stamp (E-Stamp): Valid in Pennsylvania. Available for purchase through HuntFishPA.

Migratory Game Bird Hunting

  • Pennsylvania Migratory Game Bird License:
    • Required for Hunting: Ducks, geese, doves, woodcock, brant, coots, gallinules, rails, and snipe.
    • Mentored Hunters: Eligible to purchase migratory game bird licenses for authorized species.
    • Where to Obtain: Available from any license issuing agent or online at https://HuntFish.PA.gov.

Light Geese Conservation Season

  • Conservation Season Permit:
    • Requirement: Necessary to hunt light geese during the conservation season.
    • Mandatory Reporting: Hunters must submit a report on their hunting activity and harvest.
    • Additional Information: Visit www.pgc.pa.gov or call 1-833-PGC-HUNT.

Key Points

  • Legal Compliance: Hunters must ensure they have the appropriate licenses and permits for the specific type of hunting they plan to engage in.
  • Conservation Efforts: The licensing and permit system aids in wildlife management and conservation efforts by tracking hunting activity and harvests.
  • Mentored Hunting: This program allows new hunters to learn under guidance, promoting safe and responsible hunting practices.

Arms and Ammunition Regulations for Hunting in Pennsylvania

Approved Firearms and Archery Equipment

  1. Shotguns:

    • Types: Manual and semiautomatic.
    • Gauge Limitation: No larger than 10-gauge.
    • Capacity Restriction: Maximum of three shells (chamber and magazine combined).
  2. Archery Equipment:

    • Types: Longbows, recurve bows, compound bows, and crossbows.
    • Ammunition: Arrows.

Ammunition for Waterfowl Hunting

  • Shot Type: Only non-toxic shot allowed.
  • Size Limitation: Fine shot up to and including size T (.20 inches).
  • Restriction: It is unlawful to hunt waterfowl using lead shot.

Key Points

  • Purpose of Regulations: These regulations are designed to ensure safe and responsible hunting practices, while also considering the impact on the environment, particularly for waterfowl.
  • Non-Toxic Shot Requirement: The use of non-toxic shot helps reduce the risk of lead poisoning in waterfowl and other wildlife, aligning with conservation efforts.

Hunting Party Regulations for Waterfowl and Dove in Pennsylvania

Hunting in Larger Groups

  • Permissible Group Size: Waterfowl and dove hunters are allowed to hunt in parties larger than six persons.
  • Condition: This exception applies when hunters are in a blind or other stationary positions.

Legal Hunting Hours for Migratory Birds in Pennsylvania

Dove Season

  • Duration: From one-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

September Canada Goose Season and Light-Goose Conservation Season

  • Duration: From one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.

Youth Waterfowl Days

  • Restriction: Hunting hours for all waterfowl conclude at sunset.

Other Migratory Bird Seasons

  • Duration: From one-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

Sunrise - Sunset Times

  1. June 25 - July 1: Start at 5:05 AM, End at 8:33 PM
  2. July 2 - 8: Start at 5:09 AM, End at 8:32 PM
  3. July 9 - 15: Start at 5:14 AM, End at 8:29 PM
  4. July 16 - 22: Start at 5:20 AM, End at 8:24 PM
  5. July 23 - 29: Start at 5:26 AM, End at 8:17 PM
  6. July 30 - Aug. 5: Start at 5:33 AM, End at 8:10 PM
  7. Aug. 6 - 12: Start at 5:39 AM, End at 8:01 PM
  8. Aug. 13 - 19: Start at 5:46 AM, End at 7:51 PM
  9. Aug. 20 - 26: Start at 5:53 AM, End at 7:41 PM
  10. Aug. 27 - Sept. 2: Start at 6:00 AM, End at 7:30 PM
  11. Sept. 3 - 9: Start at 6:06 AM, End at 7:19 PM
  12. Sept. 10 - 16: Start at 6:12 AM, End at 7:08 PM
  13. Sept. 17 - 23: Start at 6:19 AM, End at 6:56 PM
  14. Sept. 24 - 30: Start at 6:26 AM, End at 6:45 PM
  15. Oct. 1 - 7: Start at 6:33 AM, End at 6:34 PM
  16. Oct. 8 - 14: Start at 6:40 AM, End at 6:23 PM
  17. Oct. 15 - 21: Start at 6:47 AM, End at 6:13 PM
  18. Oct. 22 - 28: Start at 6:55 AM, End at 6:03 PM
  19. Oct. 29 - Nov. 4: Start at 7:03 AM, End at 5:55 PM
  20. Nov. 5 - 11: Start at 6:11 AM, End at 4:48 PM
  21. Nov. 12 - 18: Start at 6:19 AM, End at 4:42 PM
  22. Nov. 19 - 25: Start at 6:27 AM, End at 4:38 PM
  23. Nov. 26 - Dec. 2: Start at 6:34 AM, End at 4:36 PM
  24. Dec. 3 - 9: Start at 6:40 AM, End at 4:35 PM
  25. Dec. 10 - 16: Start at 6:46 AM, End at 4:36 PM
  26. Dec. 17 - 23: Start at 6:50 AM, End at 4:40 PM
  27. Dec. 24 - 30: Start at 6:52 AM, End at 4:44 PM
  28. Dec. 31 - Jan. 6: Start at 6:53 AM, End at 4:46 PM
  29. Jan. 7 - 13: Start at 6:53 AM, End at 4:51 PM
  30. Jan. 14 - 20: Start at 6:51 AM, End at 4:58 PM
  31. Jan. 21 - 27: Start at 6:48 AM, End at 5:06 PM
  32. Jan. 28 - Feb. 3: Start at 6:43 AM, End at 5:14 PM
  33. Feb. 4 - 10: Start at 6:37 AM, End at 5:23 PM
  34. Feb. 11 - 17: Start at 6:29 AM, End at 5:31 PM
  35. Feb. 18 - 24: Start at 6:20 AM, End at 5:39 PM
  36. Feb. 25 - March 2: Start at 6:10 AM, End at 5:48 PM
  37. March 3 - 9: Start at 6:00 AM, End at 5:55 PM
  38. March 10 - 16: Start at 6:49 AM, End at 7:03 PM
  39. March 17 - 23: Start at 6:38 AM, End at 7:10 PM
  40. March 24 - 30: Start at 6:27 AM, End at 7:17 PM
  41. March 31 - April 6: Start at 6:15 AM, End at 7:24 PM
  42. April 7 - 13: Start at 6:04 AM, End at 7:32 PM
  43. April 14 - 20: Start at 5:53 AM, End at 7:39 PM
  44. April 21 - 27: Start at 5:43 AM, End at 7:46 PM
  45. April 28 - May 4: Start at 5:35 AM, End at 7:53 PM
  46. May 5 - 11: Start at 5:25 AM, End at 8:00 PM
  47. May 12 - 18: Start at 5:18 AM, End at 8:07 PM
  48. May 19 - 25: Start at 5:11 AM, End at 8:13 PM
  49. May 26 - June 1: Start at 5:07 AM, End at 8:19 PM
  50. June 2 - 8: Start at 5:03 AM, End at 8:24 PM
  51. June 9 - 15: Start at 5:02 AM, End at 8:29 PM
  52. June 16 - 22: Start at 5:02 AM, End at 8:32 PM
  53. June 23 - 30: Start at 5:05 AM, End at 8:33 PM

These times must be adjusted using the Meridian Map to align with the specific location's longitude. The times change weekly, reflecting the gradual shift in daylight hours throughout the year.

Restrictions on Taking Migratory Game Birds

Shotgun Regulations

  • Capacity Limit: Shotguns must not be capable of holding more than three shells.
  • Plug Requirement: If the shotgun has a greater capacity, it must be plugged with a one-piece filler that cannot be removed without disassembling the gun.

Prohibited Hunting Methods

  1. Sink Boxes: Hunting from a sink box (a low-floating device for concealment under water) is not allowed.
  2. Motorized Land Conveyances and Aircraft: Cannot use cars, other motor-driven land conveyances, or aircraft for hunting.
  3. Motorboats and Sailboats: Hunting is prohibited from motorboats or sailboats unless the motor is completely shut off and/or the sail is furled, and the boat has stopped moving.
  4. Live Decoys and Electronic Calls: The use of live decoys, recorded bird calls, or electrically amplified imitations of bird calls is forbidden.
  5. Rallying Birds with Motorized Conveyances: It is illegal to drive, rally, or chase birds with motorized conveyances or sailboats to bring them within shooting range.
  6. Baiting: Hunting with the aid of baiting or over a baited area is prohibited. An area is considered baited for 30 days after the removal of the bait.

Use of Electronic Decoys in Hunting

Permitted Use for Specific Game

  • Waterfowl, Doves, and Crows: Electronic decoys are allowed for hunting these species.

Fluorescent Orange Requirements for Waterfowl and Dove Hunters

  • Requirement: Fluorescent orange clothing is not required for waterfowl and dove hunters.

Ducks, Mergansers, and Coots Hunting Regulations in Pennsylvania

Bag and Possession Limits

Ducks and Sea Ducks

  • Daily Bag Limit: 6 ducks or sea ducks in total, with the following specifics:
    • Maximum of 4 sea ducks per day.
    • Specific species restrictions:
      • 4 mallards (no more than 2 hens)
      • 1 scaup (increases to 2 scaup at certain times)
      • 2 black ducks
      • 3 wood ducks
      • 2 redheads
      • 2 canvasbacks
      • 1 pintail
  • Possession Limit: 18 in total.

Coots

  • Daily Bag Limit: 15
  • Possession Limit: 45

Mergansers

  • Daily Bag Limit: 5 (including hooded mergansers)
  • Possession Limit: 15

Season Dates

  • Concurrent Seasons: The seasons for ducks, sea ducks, coots, and mergansers run concurrently but have different opening and closing dates in each of the state’s four zones.
  • No Hunting on Sundays: Waterfowl hunting is closed on Sundays.

Duck Zone Boundaries

  1. Lake Erie Zone: Lake Erie, Presque Isle, and the area within 150 yards of the Lake Erie shoreline.
  2. Northwest Zone: Area including all of Erie and Crawford counties and parts of Mercer and Venango counties north of I-80.
  3. North Zone: East of the Northwest Zone and north of I-80 to Route 220, and north/east of I-180 from Route 220 to I-80, and north of I-80 from I-180 to the Delaware River.
  4. South Zone: Covers the remainder of the state not included in the Lake Erie, Northwest, and North Zones.

Canada Goose Hunting Zones and Regulations in Pennsylvania

Goose Zone Boundaries

  1. Atlantic Population Zone (APZ):
    • Eastern area defined by specific state routes and interstates, extending to the New Jersey state line.
  2. Resident Population Zone (RPZ):
    • Encompasses all of Pennsylvania except for the APZ.
  3. Southern James Bay Population Zone (SJPBZ):
    • This zone has been dissolved and incorporated into the RPZ due to changes in migration patterns.

September Season Exceptions

  • Western Crawford County & Northwestern Mercer County:
    • Season: September 1-16.
    • Bag Limit: 1 daily, 3 possession.
    • Note: Different bag limits and seasons apply in parts of these counties.
  • Lancaster and Lebanon Counties Specific Area:
    • Bag Limit: 1 daily, 3 possession.
    • Note: Closed on SGL 46 (Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area).
  • Youth Waterfowl Days:
    • Exception areas do not apply to youth participation on September youth waterfowl days in SGL 214 and SGL 46.
    • Hunting hours for all migratory birds, including Canada geese, close at sunset on youth waterfowl days.

Regular Season

  • SGL 46 (Middle Creek WMA) Public Hunting Areas:
    • Outside controlled areas: 1 daily limit, 3 possession limit.
    • Inside controlled areas: Season limit of one.

General Regulations

  • Statewide Open Season: Varies in length and bag limits by zone.
  • Inclusion: Seasons for Canada geese also include white-fronted geese.
  • No Hunting on Sundays: Applies to all waterfowl hunting.
  • Western Crawford County & Northwestern Mercer County:
    • Regular Season Limits: 3 daily, 9 possession.

Additional Information

  • Maps and Details: Available at www.pgc.pa.gov.
  • Variability: Hunters should be aware that season lengths, bag limits, and specific regulations can vary by zone and are subject to change.

Hunting Regulations for Various Birds in Pennsylvania

Brant

  • Bag Limit: 1 daily, 3 possession.
  • Season: Both Goose Zones, October 14 - November 17.
  • Requirement: Federal duck stamp needed.

Woodcock

  • Bag Limit: 3 daily, 9 possession.
  • Season: Statewide, October 14 - November 24 and December 11 - 20.

Wilson’s Snipe

  • Bag Limit: 8 daily, 24 possession.
  • Season: Statewide, October 14 - November 24 and December 11 - 20.

Gallinules

  • Bag Limit: 3 daily, 9 possession.
  • Season: Statewide, September 1 - November 21.

Doves

  • Bag Limit: 15 daily, 45 possession.
  • Season: Statewide, September 1 - November 24 and December 19 - January 6.

Virginia & Sora Rails

  • Bag Limit: 3 daily, 9 possession (singly or combined).
  • Season: Statewide, September 1 - November 21.
  • Note: Clapper and King Rail hunting is closed statewide.

Resident Population Zone (Goose)

  • Regular Season: October 24 - February 24.
  • Conservation Season: February 26 - April 26.

Atlantic Population Zone (Goose)

  • Regular Season: October 2 - January 27.
  • Conservation Season: January 29 - April 26.

Life Jacket Requirement

  • Period: November 1 to April 30.
  • Boats: Required on boats less than 16 feet in length, canoes, and kayaks.
  • Purpose: To prevent cold-water immersion fatalities.

Conservation Season (Goose)

  • Permitted: Recorded or amplified calls or sounds.
  • Requirements: Conservation Season permit, federal duck stamp, and Pennsylvania Migratory Game Bird License.
  • Note: Except for crows, migratory bird hunting is closed on Sundays.

Youth, Veterans, and Military Days

  • Eligibility: Licensed junior and mentored youth hunters, military veterans, and active military personnel.
  • Game: Ducks, mergansers, brant, coots, gallinules, and Canada geese.
  • Stamp Requirement: Hunters 16 or older need a federal duck stamp.
  • License: All hunters need a Pennsylvania migratory game bird license.
  • Bag Limits: Regular season limits apply.
  • Details and Dates: Specific dates for each zone are listed, available on www.pgc.pa.gov.
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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.