As PA Deer Season Opens, Game Commission Makes Changes

PENNSYLVANIA — When hunters across the state take to the woods on Saturday, for the start of deer season, they can only hope they be a part of duplicating the success of last year’s harvest. The Pennsylvania Game Commission has made changes to hunting days and procedures to make that goal easier to achieve.

Hunters killed an estimated 435,180 deer in the 2020-21 seasons. That was 12 percent higher than the 2019-20 harvest of 389,431 and the largest harvest in 15 years. Antlered deer were a large part of that, as hunters took 174,780 bucks last year – up from 163,240 in 2019-20 and 147,750 in 2018-19.

Game Commission executive director Bryan Burhans said exciting opportunities await for hunters this season.

“Hunters have the opportunity to pursue large-racked bucks in numbers unlike anything
we’ve seen in more than a century,” he said. “Plus, they’ve got more flexibility when it comes to deciding when and where to take antlerless deer.

“We know that’s important. In Pennsylvania and across the nation, hunters busy with family, work and school commitments consistently list lack of time as the biggest obstacle to getting into the woods. These changes address that and set the stage for folks to make some wonderful

The 14-day 2021 statewide firearms season begins Nov. 27-28, providing hunters – many off work or school – an entire weekend to be afield. Deer season then runs through Dec. 11, closing only on Sunday Dec. 5.

Hunters with the proper licenses can harvest either an antlered or antlerless deer at any time during the season, anywhere in the state. That’s a change from last year, when just 10 wildlife management units allowed concurrent buck and doe hunting.

Another change: the Game Commission this year made it possible for hunters willing to use
antlerless tags to get more of them if the allocation hasn’t been sold out. It adopted a regulation change allowing hunters to hold up to six antlerless licenses at a time. That’s up from three previously.

Increasing the licenses-per-hunter limit better ensures tags are issued to the fullest extent possible. It also gives hunters the chance to buy antlerless tags deeper into hunting season.

Deer hunters everywhere statewide must wear at all times a minimum of 250 square inches of fluorescent orange material on their head, chest and back combined, visible from 360 degrees, during the firearms deer season. An orange hat and vest will satisfy the requirement.

Non-hunters who might be afield during deer season should consider wearing orange as well.

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