COUNTDOWN TO DEER SEASON HAS BEGUN
HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania’s only unofficial holiday - the Monday after Thanksgiving – marks the opening day of the two-week general deer season, and will feature nearly 750,000 individuals sporting fluorescent orange throughout Penn’s Woods, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe.
|PA Game Commission Photo|
Antler restrictions in place this year mirror those from the previous year. For Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B and 2D, hunters need to identify three antler points, not including the brow tine, which is the point immediately above the antler burr. In the remainder of the state, antler restrictions remain a minimum of at least three points on one side.
Statewide, all junior license holders, mentored youth hunters, disabled hunters with a permit to use a vehicle and resident active-duty U.S. Armed Services personnel have a minimum antler restrictions of one antler with at least two points, or one antler three or more inches in length.
For those hunters in 11 WMUs, there is a split-season structure, in which the first five days (Nov. 26-30) are open for antlered deer only and the remaining seven days (Dec. 1-8) are open for antlered and antlerless deer. Those WMUs are 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3B, 3C, 4B, 4D and 4E. In the other 11 WMUs, antlered and antlerless deer are in season from Nov. 26-Dec. 8.
“In addition to being a rich part of our state’s heritage, deer season is critical in managing Pennsylvania’s whitetails,” Roe said. “The efforts of hunters are far-reaching; they help to keep deer populations in check, and enable the agency to meet deer management goals that benefit those who reside, visit or travel through this state.”
Roe noted that hunters will need to make sure that they have done their pre-season scouting, as fall food conditions, development, posted property and other factors will impact deer movements.
“Deer will respond to food availability and hunter pressure, both of which can vary from year to year, and from one area to another,” Roe said. “Pre-season scouting can improve a hunter’s chance for success this year.
“Recognizing the impacts dramatic changes on the landscape may have on deer movements will be just as important – if not more important – as identifying those locations where deer are feeding regularly. Spending time afield before season often leads to better hunting opportunities.”
Hunters must wear 250 square inches of fluorescent orange material on the head, chest and back combined at all times while afield during the seasons. They also are advised that it’s illegal to hunt, chase or disturb deer within 150 yards of any occupied building without the occupant's permission if they are using a firearm, or 50 yards if they are using a bow or crossbow.
During the two-week season, hunters may use any legal sporting arm, as outlined on page 45 of the 2012-13 Digest. Rifles are not permitted to be used in Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware or Montgomery counties, however, shotguns and muzzleloaders are legal. Deer hunters in Philadelphia may use only bows or crossbows.
All hunters who take a deer must fill out their harvest tag and attach it to the deer’s ear before moving the carcass. The tag can be secured to the base of the ear with a string drawn very tightly, if the hunter plans to have the deer mounted. Cutting a slit in the ear to attach the tag will require additional work by a taxidermist.
For those hunters who plan to visit both a deer processor and taxidermist, it is important to remember that state law requires the deer harvest carcass tag to remain with the head at the taxidermist, and that a second hand-made tag containing the name, address and license number of the person who harvested the deer and the location of the harvest should remain with the rest of the carcass going to the processor.
Roe noted that properly licensed bear hunters who still possess an unused bear tag come deer season may take a bear during all or portions of the first week of deer season, but only in certain WMUs. Sale of bear licenses will continue through Nov. 16, after which it will close and then reopen briefly Nov. 22 to 25. Specific seasons and reporting requirements for taking bears during deer season are outlined on page 36-38 of the 2012-13 Digest issued with the purchase of a hunting license. The Digest also may be viewed on the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us).