Here's your complete guide to the 2022 PA deer hunting season
For outdoors people, this week includes more holidays than Thanksgiving. Saturday is the start of rifle-hunting deer season across Pennsylvania.
If you are planning to head out for that trophy deer, here's what you need to know.
When is the PA hunting season in 2022?
The regular firearm season to hunt both buck and doe is Nov. 26-Dec. 10. The season is closed for one day in that time: Dec. 4, a Sunday.
PA Sunday hunting dates
Nov. 27 is the third week in a row that hunters can hunt on Sunday for big game. Nov. 20 was the start of black bear season, and Nov. 13 was the beginning of archery season.
Nov. 27 begins rifle-hunting deer season statewide and bear season for Wildlife Management Units (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.
If you are hunting on private land on a Sunday, you need to carry written permission from the landowner, which includes the property owner’s name, address and phone number.
When is hunting season over in PA?
If you don't get your deer during rifle season, you still have time to look for some venison for your freezer. Pennsylvania has generous opportunities permitting deer hunting in certain parts of the state that continue through Jan. 28 with a few days being closed.
- The statewide late archery season is Dec. 26-Jan. 16. Archery season runs Sept. 17-Nov. 25 and Dec. 26- Jan. 28 in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D.
- 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.
What qualifies as a buck?
There are three different regulations for those wanting to shoot a buck.
Junior license holders, mentored youth, disabled hunters with a permit to use a vehicle and resident active duty U.S. Armed Services personnel can harvest antlered deer with two or more points on one antler, or a spike 3 inches more in length.
In most of the state, hunters are required to find three points on an antler for the deer to be a legal buck.
On the western fringe of Pennsylvania in Wildlife Management Units 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B and 2SD, those counties require bucks to have three points including the main beam, but not counting the brow tine.
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Where can I get an antlerless deer license in PA?
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 or hunting zone. Visit huntfish.pa.gov to see where antlerless licenses are still available.
General hunting licenses are available on the website and also at many sporting shops across the state.
When can you hunt black bear in PA?
Regular firearms bear season is Nov. 19-22 with an extended season overlapping with rifle deer hunting in WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D from 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.
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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.
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.
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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?
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.
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.
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Brian Whipkey is the outdoors columnist for USA TODAY Network sites in Pennsylvania. Contact him 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 Facebook@whipkeyoutdoors.