Pennsylvania Hunting: What you need to know about the 2022-23 rules and dates
As hunting seasons open across Pennsylvania, there are some important things you need to know regarding when you can hunt and what you need to wear.
I took some time this week to highlight some of the more popular things sportsmen need to remember this fall.
What Sundays are you allowed to hunt in Pennsylvania for 2022?
Pennsylvania has three Sundays that are open to hunters this fall.
On Nov. 13, you can hunt with archery gear for deer. Bear can be hunted with archery gear in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5B,5C and 5D only. If you like small game hunting, on this date you can go after squirrel, pheasant, rabbit, grouse, bobwhite quail, woodchuck, crow, raccoon, fox, coyote, opossum, striped skunk, weasel and porcupine.
On Nov. 20, you can hunt bear, deer (with archery gear in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D only) and small game including squirrel, pheasant, rabbit, grouse, bobwhite quail, woodchuck, crow, raccoon, fox, coyote, opossum, striped skunk, weasel and porcupine.
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Nov. 27 is rifle deer season and bear season for WMUs that are in the extended season including 1B, 2B, 2C,, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A,4B,4C,4D,4E, 5A,5B, 5C and 5D. This Sunday is also open to those hunting fox, raccoon and coyote.
Keep in mind if you are hunting on private land on one of these three Sundays you need to carry written permission from the landowner that includes the property owner's name, address and phone number.
What are the 2022-2023 small game seasons in Pennsylvania?
- Squirrel season is Sept. 10-Nov. 25, Dec. 12-23, and Dec. 26-Feb. 27.
- Rabbit season statewide is Oct. 15-Nov. 25, Dec. 12-23 and Dec. 26-Feb. 27. Junior hunters can go Oct. 1-15.
- Pheasant season spans Oct. 22-Nov. 25, Dec. 12-23 and Dec. 26-Feb. 27. Junior hunters have Oct. 8-15 to pursue pheasants.
- Grouse are open to hunting Oct. 15-Nov. 25 and Dec. 12-23.
When is deer hunting season in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania has generous opportunities permitting deer hunting in certain parts of the state from mid-September through Jan. 28 with few days being closed.
- Archery season runs Sept. 17-Nov. 25 and Dec. 26- Jan. 28 in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D. The statewide archery season spans Oct. 1-Nov. 18 and Dec. 26-Jan. 16.
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- Muzzleloader season for antlerless deer is Oct. 15-22
- Special firearms for antlerless deer for junior and senior hunters, mentored youth, active-duty military and certain disabled permit holders runs Oct. 20-22.
- Regular firearm season for both buck and doe is Nov. 26-Dec. 10.
- Flintlock muzzleloader deer season is Dec. 26-Jan. 16. In WMUs, 2B, 5C and 5D it continues through Jan. 28. You can also use a firearm in those three WMUs during this time for antlerless deer.
Where can I get an antlerless deer license in Pennsylvania?
Antlerless deer licenses went on sale July 11. While some parts of the state have sold out, other parts of the commonwealth still have some doe tags available. As of Sept. 12, hunters can visit their county treasurers office to purchase a remaining doe tag for their WMU. Visit huntfish.pa.gov to see where antlerless licenses are still available.
When is fall turkey season in Pennsylvania?
This season fluctuates more than others as the hunting opportunities are adjusted based on population research and past hunter success. For example, in WMUs 5A, 5C and 5D in southeastern Pennsylvania, it's closed this year. In WMU 5B, you can only hunt Nov. 1-3.
Other parts of the state start on Oct. 29. In WMUS, 1A, 1B, 4A, 4B, 4D and 4E the season ends Nov. 5. In WMUs 2A, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D and 4C, it ends Nov. 12. In WMUs 2C, 2D and 2E, it ends Nov. 12 but returns Nov. 23-25. WMU 2B around Allegheny County has the longest fall turkey season. It runs Oct. 29-Nov. 18 and Nov. 23-25.
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When can you hunt black bear in Pennsylvania?
- Early season, WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D Sept. 17-Nov. 25 and WMU 5B Oct. 1-Nov. 18
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- Statewide archery season, Oct. 15-Nov. 5
- Muzzleloader season, Oct. 15-22
- Special firearms for junior and senior license holders, active-duty military and certain disabled persons’ permit holders, Oct. 20-22
- Regular firearms bear season, Nov. 19-22
- Extended season overlapping with rifle deer hunting in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D, Nov. 26-Dec. 10
- In WMUs, 1B, 2C, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 5A, the season runs Nov. 26-Dec. 3.
When is elk hunting season in Pennsylvania?
The seasons to hunt elk are archery Sept. 10-24, firearms Oct. 31-Nov. 5 and late season Dec. 31-Jan. 7. The deadline to apply for a license this year has passed.
The Game Commission received 104,250 applications for the lottery drawing of 178 elk tags held in August. Pennsylvania has more than 1,300 wild elk in northcentral Pennsylvania.
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What can mentored hunters pursue?
If you have someone you want to introduce to hunting, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has mentored opportunities for unlicensed hunters of all ages to go with a licensed adult.
A mentored hunter can hunt squirrels, rabbits, hares, ruffed grouse, bobwhite quail, pheasants, crows, doves, porcupines, woodchucks, coyotes, deer and turkeys while hunting with a licensed adult.
Youth who participate in the mentored program for at least three years before turning 12 are required to get a license at 12 rather than continuing as a mentored hunter. License-buyers must first successfully complete a Hunter-Trapper Education course. Mentored hunters ages 12 or older may participate in the program for a maximum of three license years. After that time, they must take a Hunter-Trapper Education course to purchase a hunting license.
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Mentored Hunting Program permit fees are $2.97 for resident and nonresident applicants under 12; $6.97 for resident applicants 12 to 16; $41.97 for nonresident applicants 12 to 16; $20.97 for residents 17 and older and $101.97 for nonresidents 17 and older.
Licenses and Mentored Hunting Program permits can be obtained from any license issuing agent or online at www.huntfish.pa.gov.
How do I report a violation?
If you see someone doing something illegal, such as shooting at deer from the roadway, the Game Commission has three phone numbers to call: 833-PGC-HUNT (833-742-4868), 833-PGC-Wild (833-742-9453) and Operation Game Thief at 888-PGC-8001. The agency's website is pgc.pa.gov to report something online. The agency would like people to report crimes against wildlife as quickly as possible and callers should try to document a physical description of people, animals and vehicles.
When do I have to wear fluorescent orange while hunting in Pennsylvania?
This is a common question as the regulation varies depending on what you are hunting.
For example, those hunting groundhogs only need to wear an orange hat.
If you are small game hunting or firearm hunting for deer, bear or elk, you need to have at least 250 inches of orange clothing combined on your head, chest and back.
If you hunt out of a blind where other hunters might not be able to see you, you are also required to post 100 square inches of orange on the outside of the blind.
If you walk on state game lands during the rifle hunting season times of Nov. 15-Dec. 15, you are required to wear at least 250 inches of orange clothing regardless if you are hunting.
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If you hunt archery for deer, bear or elk and the after Christmas flintlock muzzleloader season, you don't need to wear orange.
Personally, if there's a season where we're not required to wear orange, I still keep a piece of orange clothing in my coat that I pull out when I see another hunter approaching. Remember, the goal of wearing orange is to reduce the chances of another hunter shooting toward you.
This column was meant to highlight some of the more common things we as hunters need to remember. But it's in no way intended to replace the 74-page Hunting and Trapping Digest you received with your license. If you still have questions, you'll probably find the answers there. If not, please reach out to me and I'll track down the information.
Good luck hunting.
Brian Whipkey is the outdoors columnist for USA TODAY Network sites in Pennsylvania. Contact him at email@example.com and sign up for our weekly Go Outdoors PA newsletter email on your website's homepage under your login name. Follow him on social media @whipkeyoutdoors.