Predators & Small Game
Pennsylvania has a strong deer hunting tradition and plenty of hunting pressure.
Season Dates: Statewide archery season in 2012 runs Sept. 29 to Nov. 12 and Dec. 26 to Jan. 12. Gun seasons vary by zone. The earliest and longest-running zones are open Nov. 26 - Dec. 8. Other zones are open Nov. 26 to Nov. 30 and Dec. 1-8. Late flintlock seasons open Dec. 26 and close Jan. 12 and Jan. 26, again, depending on zone.
The Grade: C
Pennsylvania has one of the largest contingents of deer hunters in the country. They also have one of the most charged deer hunting atmospheres.
Several years ago, Dr. Gary Alt implemented highly-controversial changes to the state's deer hunting regulations. The state imposed mandatory antler-point restrictions and completely overhauled the state's antlerless regulations, increasing the number of available doe licenses and running the antlerless season concurrent with buck season.
The end result? Well, that depends largely upon who you ask. Some say the state's hunting has never been better, with bigger bucks and a more balanced herd. Others say the end is near and Pennsylvania's deer hunting days are over.
The truth? Well, the data does show that hunters are killing fewer deer (504,000 in 2001 compared to 309,000 in 2010) and that the population has been reduced. Which, of course, was the goal. Harvest data also shows an increase in the average age of bucks killed and you hear more reports of big bucks being killed in the Keystone State.
Pennsylvania has a robust public land system with Pennsylvania State Game Lands accounting for about 1.4 million acres, about 2 million acres of State Forests and more than a half-million acres in National Forest lands. But it's a heavily-hunted state, and if you want to escape the crowds, you'll need to get off the paths and trails.
Tags are available over the counter and are bargain priced.
Antler Nation Knowledge: Pennsylvania features state-wide mandatory antler point restrictions (four points on a side in some areas, three on a side in others). If you happen to take a buck that does not meet those restictions by mistake, the Game Commission offers a unique system where you may voluntarily report the violation and pay a minimal fine of $25. You can keep the deer but must forfeit the antlers. Repeat offenders face stricter fines and penalties.
Record B&C Typical
Taken by Fritz C. Janowsky in Bradford County in 1943.
Total B&C Typical Entries
Record B&C Non-Typical
Taken by Michael D. Ambrosia in Lawrence County in 2001.
Total B&C Non-Typical Entries
Est. Whitetail Population
No. Licenses Sold Annually
Deer to Hunter Ratio
Resident license and permit
Resident hunting license is $20.70. An archery or black powder permit is $16.70.
Non-resident hunting license is $101.70. Add an archery or muzzleloader permit for $26.70.