Pennsylvania Game Commission Approves 2020-21 Hunting Seasons

Antlerless Deer

HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners this week gave final approval to hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits for the 2020-21 license year. Highlights include:

  • Expanding Sunday hunting opportunities on three days – Sunday, Nov. 15 for archery deer hunting, Sunday, Nov. 22 for bear hunting during the bear firearms season, and Sunday, Nov. 29 for deer hunting during the firearms deer season.
  • Adopting a 14-day concurrent firearms deer season for antlered and antlerless deer in 10 Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) and retaining a split-season in the remaining 13 WMUs.
  • Extending the statewide archery deer season to end Nov. 20, giving bowhunters the opportunity to take advantage of peak and post-rut activity.
  • Opening squirrel season statewide on Sept. 12 to create more opportunities for younger hunters to get afield.
  • Shifting the statewide general bear season to run from Saturday through Tuesday –adding an additional Sunday opportunity for bear hunters.
  • Bringing back a three-day Thanksgiving turkey season, running Wednesday through Friday, in select Wildlife Management Units (WMUs); removing the Thanksgiving turkey season in WMUs 1A, 2A, 4A, 4B, 4D and 4E, but making the regular season two weeks (Oct. 31-Nov. 14) instead of one.
  • Increasing the bear hunting opportunities for archers by adding a week to the archery bear season and creating an overlap in the first week with the muzzleloader deer and bear seasons.
  • Moving the start of the extended bear seasons to Monday of the first week of firearms deer season in all WMUs with extended bear seasons.
  • Permitting either-sex pheasant hunting statewide, outside of Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas.
  • Opening bobcat hunting and trapping seasons in WMU 2B, and river otter trapping seasons in WMUs 1A, 1B and 2F.
  • Increasing the season bag limit for beavers from 40 to 60 in WMUs 1A and 1B.

The commissioners also set the number of antlerless deer licenses to be allocated, as well as the number of elk licenses to be allocated for the coming license year.

The board voted to allocate 932,000 antlerless deer licenses statewide, which is up from the 903,000 licenses allocated for 2019-20. Some Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) increases were tempered by the addition of a 14-day seasons to WMU’s containing Disease Management Areas. Allocations by WMU are as follows, with the allocation from the previous license year appearing in parentheses: WMU 1A – 49,000 (49,000); WMU 1B – 41,000 (35,000); WMU 2A – 46,000 (46,000); WMU 2B – 49,000 (54,000); WMU 2C – 58,000 (52,000); WMU 2D – 60,000 (66,000); WMU 2E – 39,000 (32,000); WMU 2F – 36,000 (31,000); WMU 2G – 27,000 (26,000); WMU 2H – 7,000 (6,000); WMU 3A – 21,000 (20,000); WMU 3B – 33,000 (38,000); WMU 3C – 49,000 (46,000); WMU 3D – 36,000 (25,000); WMU 4A – 49,000 (41,000); WMU 4B – 33,000 (32,000); WMU 4C – 32,000 (36,000); WMU 4D – 45,000 (46,000); WMU 4E – 37,000 (34,000); WMU 5A – 26,000 (22,000); WMU 5B – 60,000 (67,000); WMU 5C – 70,000 (70,000); and WMU 5D – 29,000 (29,000).

The board also voted to issue 164 elk licenses (36 antlered, 128 antlerless) across three 2020-21 seasons. For the one-week general season to run Nov. 2-7, 26 antlered and 78 antlerless tags have been allocated. In the archery season open only in select Elk Hunt Zones, to run from Sept. 12-26, 10 antlered and 16 antlerless licenses are available. And there are 34 licenses available for a late antlerless-only elk season to run from Jan. 2-9.

All elk licenses will be awarded by lottery, and hunters must apply separately for all seasons they wish to be eligible to hunt. Each application costs $11.90, meaning a hunter can enter all three drawings for $35.70. Individuals can be drawn for a maximum of one elk license per license year.

Hunting licenses for 2020-21 go on sale in mid-June and become effective July 1. After hunters purchase a general hunting license, they may apply for antlerless deer licenses based on staggered timelines, which will be outlined in the 2020-21 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, to be given free to all license buyers.

Here is a more detailed look at the 2020-21 seasons and bag limits.

CONCURRENT FIREARMS DEER SEASONS ADOPTED IN 10 WMUS

The Board of Game Commissioners adopted a slate of deer seasons for the 2020-21 license year that will allow concurrent hunting for antlered and antlerless deer through the duration of the firearms deer season in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 2C, 2D, 2E, 4A, 4B, 4D, 5A, 5C and 5D. In these WMUs, the concurrent season will open Saturday, Nov. 28, include a day of Sunday deer hunting on Sunday, Nov. 29, then run from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12.

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In all other WMUs – 1A, 1B, 2A, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4C, 4E and 5B – a seven-day antlered deer season will be followed by a seven-day concurrent season. The antlered deer season opens on Saturday, Nov. 28, includes a day of Sunday buck hunting on Sunday, Nov. 29, then runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4. Antlerless deer hunting begins on Dec. 5 and continues through Dec. 12, concurrent with the antlered deer season.

The commissioners had preliminarily approved a statewide concurrent firearms deer season, but said that the majority of the comments they received were from individuals who opposed the change out of concern it would decrease the deer population. In response to those comments, the Board voted to continue with the split firearm deer season in much of the state for the first week of the rifle deer season. Aside from WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D, the WMUs where concurrent seasons were implemented are Units in which a Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Disease Management Area (DMA) has been established, thereby providing hunters in those areas with an additional five days of antlerless deer season in those WMUs.

The Game Commission manages deer populations at the WMU level through its antlerless allocations, and made adjustments based on the length of the firearms season within each WMU. Antlerless allocations in WMUs with concurrent seasons are lower than they would have been if a split-season had been approved.

The initially proposed statewide concurrent firearms season was not designed to broadly reduce deer populations across the state, but was intended to allow hunters more time to meet the deer-management objectives in each WMU and take into account the potential for inclement weather to negatively affect hunting opportunities.

The board retained the antler restrictions that have been in place for adult and senior license holders since the 2011-12 seasons. It remains “three-up” on one side, not counting a brow tine, for the western Wildlife Management Units of 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B and 2D, and three points on one side in all other WMUs. Those exempt from these antler restrictions are mentored youth hunters, junior license holders, disabled hunters with a permit to use a vehicle as a blind and resident active-duty military on leave.

FALL TURKEY SEASON CHANGES FINALIZED

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today adopted fall turkey seasons for 2020 and spring gobbler dates for 2021.

All recommendations on fall turkey season length are made in accordance with guidelines in the Game Commission’s Wild Turkey Management Plan.

The fall season in WMUs 1A, 2A, 4A, 4B, 4D and 4E will be from Oct. 31-Nov. 14, with no Thanksgiving season.

In WMU 1B, the season would remain one week (Oct. 31-Nov. 7), with no Thanksgiving season.

In WMU 2B (shotgun and bow only) and WMU 2C, the season would run Oct. 31-Nov. 20 and Nov. 25-27.

In WMUs 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D and 4C, the season would be Oct. 31-Nov. 14 and Nov. 25-27.

In WMU 5A, the season would be from Nov. 5-7.

In WMU 5B, the season would be from Nov. 3-5.

And in WMUs 5C and 5D, the fall season would remain closed.

For the 2021 spring gobbler season, which will run from May 1-31, the board continued with legal hunting hours to reflect the following: from May 1-May 15, legal shooting hours will be one-half hour before sunrise until noon; and from May 17-31, hunters may hunt all day, from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.

The one-day Spring Gobbler Youth Hunt will be held on April 24, 2021, which will run from one-half hour before sunrise until noon. All junior license holders and Mentored Youth Hunting Program permit holders can participate in this special half-day hunt, as well as the other spring season dates.

FINAL 2020-21 HUNTING SEASONS AND BAG LIMITS

SQUIRRELS, Red, Gray, Black and Fox (Combined): Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license, and mentored youth – Sept. 12-26 (6 daily, 18 in possession limit after first day).

SQUIRRELS, Red, Gray, Black and Fox (Combined): Sept. 12-Nov. 27; Dec. 14-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 27 (6 daily, 18 possession).

RUFFED GROUSE: Oct. 17–Nov. 27 and Dec. 14-24 (2 daily, 6 possession).

RABBIT (Cottontail) Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required licenseOct. 3-Oct. 17 (4 daily, 12 possession).

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RABBIT (Cottontail): Oct. 17-Nov. 27, Dec. 14-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 27 (4 daily, 12 possession).

PHEASANT: Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license – Oct. 10-17 (2 daily, 6 in possession). Male and female pheasants may be taken in all WMUs. There is no open season for taking pheasants in Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas, except within the Central Susquehanna Wild Pheasant Recovery Area, as authorized by executive order.

PHEASANT: Oct. 24-Nov. 27, Dec. 14-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 27 (2 daily, 6 in possession). Male and female pheasants may be taken in all WMUs. There is no open season for taking pheasants in Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas, except within the Central Susquehanna Wild Pheasant Recovery Area, as authorized by executive order.

BOBWHITE QUAIL: Oct. 17-Nov. 27, Dec. 14-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 27 (8 daily, 24 possession).

HARES (SNOWSHOE RABBITS) OR VARYING HARES: Dec. 26-Jan. 1, in all WMUs (1 daily, 3 possession).

WOODCHUCKS (GROUNDHOGS): No closed season, except on Sundays and during the regular firearms deer seasons. No limit.

CROWS: July 3-April 11, 2021, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only. No limit.

STARLINGS AND ENGLISH SPARROWS: No closed season, except during the antlered and antlerless deer season. No limit.

WILD TURKEY (Male or Female): WMUs 1A, 2A, 4A, 4B, 4D and 4E – Oct. 31-Nov. 14; WMU 1B – Oct. 31-Nov. 7; WMU 2B (Shotgun and bow and arrow only) and WMU 2C – Oct. 31-Nov. 20 and Nov. 25-27; WMUs 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D and 4C– Oct. 31-Nov. 14 and Nov. 25-27; WMU 5A – Nov. 5-7; WMU 5B – Nov. 3-5; WMUs 5C and 5D – CLOSED TO FALL TURKEY HUNTING.

SPRING GOBBLER (Bearded bird only): Special season for eligible junior hunters, with required license, and mentored youth – April 24, 2021. Only 1 spring gobbler may be taken during this hunt.

SPRING GOBBLER (Bearded bird only): May 1-May 31, 2021. Daily limit 1, season limit 2. (Second spring gobbler may be only taken by persons who possess a valid special wild turkey license.) From May 1-15, legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until noon; from May 17-31, legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.

BLACK BEAR, ARCHERY (WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D): Sept. 19-Nov. 27. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR, ARCHERY (WMU 5B): Oct. 3-Nov. 14. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR, ARCHERY (Statewide): Oct. 17-Nov. 7. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR, MUZZLELOADER (Statewide): Oct. 17-24. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR, SPECIAL FIREARMS (Statewide): Oct. 22-24, Junior and Senior License Holders, Disabled Person Permit (to use a vehicle) Holders, and Pennsylvania residents serving on active duty in U.S. Armed Services only. Also included are persons who have reached or will reach their 65th birthday in the year of the application for a license and hold a valid adult license, or qualify for license and fee exemptions under section 2706. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR (Statewide): Nov. 21; Sunday, Nov. 22; and Nov. 23-24. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR (WMUs 1B, 2C, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 5A): Nov. 30-Dec. 5. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D): Nov. 30-Dec. 12. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

ELK, ARCHERY: Sept. 12-26.

ELK (Antlered or Antlerless): Nov. 2-7. Only one elk may be taken during the license year.

ELK, LATE (Antlerless only): Jan. 2-9, 2021

DEER, ARCHERY (Antlered and Antlerless) WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D: Sept. 19-Nov. 14; Sunday, Nov. 15; Nov. 16-27 and Dec. 26-Jan. 23, 2021. One antlered deer per hunting license year. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license or permit.

DEER, ARCHERY (Antlered and Antlerless) Statewide: Oct. 3-Nov. 14; Sunday, Nov. 15; Nov. 16-20 and Dec. 26-Jan. 18, 2021. One antlered deer per hunting license year. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license or permit.

DEER REGULAR FIREARMS (Antlered only) WMUS 1A, 1B, 2A, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4C, 4E and 5B: Nov. 28; Sunday, Nov. 29; Nov. 30-Dec. 4. One antlered deer per hunting license year. (Holders of valid DMAP antlerless deer permits may harvest antlerless deer on DMAP properties during this period.)

DEER REGULAR FIREARMS (Antlered and Antlerless) WMUS 1A, 1B, 2A, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4C, 4E and 5B: Dec. 5-12. One antlered deer per hunting license year. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

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DEER REGULAR FIREARMS (Antlered and Antlerless) WMUs 2B, 2C, 2D,2E, 4A, 4B, 4D, 5A, 5C and 5D: Nov. 28; Sunday, Nov. 29; Nov. 30-Dec. 12. One antlered deer per hunting license year. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER, ANTLERLESS SPECIAL FIREARMS (Statewide): Oct. 22-24. Junior and Senior License Holders, Mentored Youth Permit Holders, Disabled Person Permit (to use a vehicle) Holders, and Pennsylvania residents serving on active duty in U.S. Armed Services only, with required antlerless license or permit. Also included are persons who have reached or will reach their 65th birthday in the year of the application for a license and hold a valid adult license, or qualify for license and fee exemptions under section 2706. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license or permit.

DEER, ANTLERLESS MUZZLELOADER (Statewide): Oct. 17-24. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license or permit.

DEER, ANTLERED OR ANTLERLESS FLINTLOCK (Statewide): Dec. 26-Jan. 18, 2021. One antlered deer per hunting license year, or one antlerless deer and an additional antlerless deer with each required antlerless license or permit.

DEER, ANTLERED OR ANTLERLESS FLINTLOCK (WMUs 2B, 5C, 5D): Dec. 26-Jan. 23, 2021. One antlered deer per hunting license year, or one antlerless deer and an additional antlerless deer with each required antlerless license or permit.

DEER, ANTLERLESS EXTENDED REGULAR FIREARMS: (Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties): Dec. 26-Jan. 23. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license or permit.

DEER, ANTLERLESS (Military Bases): Hunting permitted on days established by the U.S. Department of the Army at Letterkenny Army Depot, Franklin County; New Cumberland Army Depot, York County; and Fort Detrick, Raven Rock Site, Adams County. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license or permit.

FINAL 2020-21 FURBEARER HUNTING SEASONS

COYOTES: No closed season. Unlimited. Outside of any big game season (deer, bear, elk and turkey), coyotes may be taken with a hunting license or a furtaker license, and without wearing orange. During any big game season, coyotes may be taken while lawfully hunting big game or with a furtaker license.

RACCOONS and FOXES: Oct. 24-Feb. 20, unlimited.

OPOSSUM, STRIPED SKUNKS and WEASELS: No closed season, except Sundays. No limits.

BOBCAT (WMUs 2A, 2B, 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E): Jan. 9-Feb. 3. One bobcat per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.

PORCUPINES: Oct. 10-Jan. 30, 2021. (3 daily, season limit of 10).

FINAL 2020-21 TRAPPING SEASONS

MINKS and MUSKRATS: Nov. 21-Jan. 10. Unlimited.

COYOTES, FOXES, OPOSSUMS, RACCOONS, STRIPED SKUNKS and WEASELS: Oct. 25-Feb. 21. No limit.

COYOTES and FOXES, CABLE RESTRAINTS (Statewide): Dec. 26-Feb. 21. No limit. Participants must pass cable restraint certification course.

BEAVERS (Statewide): Dec. 19-March 31 (Limits vary depending on WMU).

BOBCATS (WMUs 2A, 2B 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E): Dec. 19-Jan. 10.

One bobcat per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.

FISHERS (WMUs 1B, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E): Dec. 19-Jan. 3. One fisher per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.

RIVER OTTERS (WMUs 1A, 1B, 2F, 3C and 3D): Feb. 13-20, 2021. One river otter per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.

FINAL 2020-21 FALCONRY SEASONS

SQUIRRELS (combined) Sept. 1-March 31, 2021 (6 daily, 18 possession)

BOBWHITE QUAIL Sept. 1-March 31, 2021 (8 daily, 24 possession)

RUFFED GROUSE Sept. 1-March 31, 2021 (2 daily, 6 possession)

COTTONTAIL RABBITS Sept. 1-March 31, 2021 (4 daily, 12 possession)

SNOWSHOE OR VARYING HARES Sept. 1-March 31, 2021 (1 daily, 3 possession)

RINGNECK PHEASANTS (Male or Female combined): Sept. 1-March 31, 2021 (2 daily, 6 possession)

No open season on other wild birds or mammals.

Waterfowl and Migratory Game Bird seasons to be established in accordance with federal regulations at a later date.

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