Pennsylvania’s 2023-24 Hunting & Trapping Seasons Receive Preliminary Approval

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PENNSYLVANIA — The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners recently provided preliminary approval to the 2023-24 hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits.

Modifications proposed for the 2023-24 seasons include:

  • For black bear, WMUs 1B, 2C, 4A, 4B and 4D would be removed from the extended firearms black bear season because of declining nuisance complaints in these units.
  • For elk, the proposed archery season would be a week later than in 2022-23 to provide additional time between the license drawing and the beginning of the season.
  • For furbearers, WMUs 3B and 4E would be opened to river otter trapping because habitat and population data indicate that these units can support sustainable otter harvest.
  • For small game, a significant expansion of opportunity for put-and-take hunting of captive-reared bobwhite quail in most of Pennsylvania is proposed through an earlier season opening date, later season closing date, and removal of the daily bag limit. Also, adjustments to crow season dates and addition of Thursdays as hunting days are proposed to shift hunting opportunity from the peak breeding season to the fall and winter months.
  • For falconry, an expansion of falconry opportunities, to include the period of overlap with the regular firearms deer season and the authorization of falconers to take certain furbearers are proposed.
  • No substantive changes are proposed for white-tailed deer or wild turkey seasons, although the 2024 youth and regular spring turkey seasons are proposed to open five days later than in 2023 due to normal calendar fluctuation and the wild turkey management plan guideline of opening the regular season the Saturday closest to May 1. The seasons and bag limits preliminarily approved by the board would continue with a Saturday opener to the firearms deer season. Prior to their vote, the board reviewed recent license data showing a positive change following the implementation of the Saturday opener. In particular, the license data showed that the move to a Saturday opener was followed by increased license sales by hunters ages 18 to 34 and female hunters. The board will vote to finalize the 2023-24 season dates, including those for the firearms deer season, at its upcoming meeting on April 15, 2023. The board also preliminarily approved a measure that would make all mentored hunters, including mentored adults, eligible to participate in the October special firearms season for antlerless deer and bears.

The public may offer comments on all proposed 2023-24 seasons and bag limits, as well as other board actions, between now and the board’s April meeting, when 2023-24 seasons and bag limits will be finalized, and antlerless deer license allocations will be determined.

The board will meet April 14 and 15 at the Game Commission’s Harrisburg headquarters.

PROPOSED 2023-24 HUNTING SEASONS AND BAG LIMITS

SQUIRRELS, Red, Gray, Black and Fox (Combined): Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license – Sept. 9-23 (6 daily, 18 in possession limit after first day).

SQUIRRELS, Red, Gray, Black and Fox (Combined): Sept. 9-Nov. 11, Sunday Nov. 12, Nov. 13-18, Sunday Nov. 19, Nov. 20-24, Dec. 11-23 and Dec. 26-Feb. 29, 2024 (6 daily, 18 possession).

RUFFED GROUSE: Oct. 14-Nov. 11, Sunday Nov. 12, Nov. 13-18, Sunday Nov. 19, Nov. 20-24 and Dec. 11-23 (2 daily, 6 possession).

RABBIT (Cottontail): Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license – Sept. 30Oct. 14 (4 daily, 12 possession).

RABBIT (Cottontail): Oct. 14-Nov. 11, Sunday Nov. 12, Nov. 13-18, Sunday Nov. 19, Nov. 20-24, Dec. 11-23 and Dec. 26-Feb. 29, 2024 (4 daily, 12 possession).

PHEASANT: Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license – Oct. 7-14 (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. 21-Nov. 11, Sunday Nov. 12, Nov. 13-18, Sunday Nov. 19, Nov. 20-24, Dec. 11-23 and Dec. 26-Feb. 29, 2024 (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: Sept. 1-Nov. 11, Sunday Nov. 12, Nov. 13-18, Sunday Nov. 19, Nov. 20-24, Dec. 11-23 and Dec. 26-March 30, 2024. No limit. There is no open season for the taking of bobwhite quail in the Letterkenny Army Depot Bobwhite Quail Recovery Area.

HARES (SNOWSHOE RABBITS) OR VARYING HARES: Dec. 26-Jan. 1, 2024, statewide (1 daily, 3 possession).

WOODCHUCK (GROUNDHOG): July 1-Nov. 11, Sunday Nov. 12, Nov. 13-18, Sunday Nov. 19, Nov. 20-24 and Dec. 11-June 29, 2024. No limit.

CROW: Aug. 24-March 24, 2024, on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday only. No limit.

STARLING AND ENGLISH SPARROW: No closed season, except during the regular firearms deer season. No limit.

WILD TURKEY (Male or Female): WMU 2B  Oct. 28Nov. 17 and Nov. 22-24; WMUs 1A, 1B, 4A, 4B, 4D and 4E  Oct. 28-Nov. 4; WMUs 2A, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D and 4C  Oct. 28-Nov. 11; WMUs 2C, 2D and 2E  Oct. 28-Nov. 11 and Nov. 22-24; 5B – Oct. 31-Nov. 2; WMUs 5A, 5C and 5D – CLOSED TO FALL TURKEY HUNTING.

SPRING GOBBLER (Bearded bird only): Special season for eligible junior hunters, with required license, and mentored hunters 16 and under – April 27, 2024. Only 1 spring gobbler may be taken during this hunt. Hunting hours end at noon.

SPRING GOBBLER (Bearded bird only): May 4-31, 2024. 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 4-18, legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until noon; from May 20-31, legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.

BLACK BEAR, ARCHERY (WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D): Sept. 16-Nov. 11, Sunday Nov. 12, Nov. 13-18, Sunday Nov. 19 and Nov. 20-24. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR, ARCHERY (WMU 5B): Sept. 30Nov. 11, Sunday Nov. 12 and Nov. 13-17. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR, ARCHERY (WMUs 1A, 1B, 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 5A): Oct. 14-Nov. 4. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR, MUZZLELOADER (Statewide): Oct. 14-21. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR, SPECIAL FIREARMS (Statewide): Oct. 19-21, 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 or in the U.S. Coast Guard 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. 18, Sunday Nov. 19 and Nov. 20-21. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR (WMUs 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 5A): Nov. 25, Sunday Nov. 26 and Nov. 27-Dec. 2. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D): Nov. 25, Sunday Nov. 26 and Nov. 27-Dec. 9. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

ELK, ARCHERY: Sept. 16-30. Only one elk may be taken during the license year.

ELK (Antlered or Antlerless): Oct. 30-Nov. 4. Only one elk may be taken during the license year.

ELK, LATE: Dec. 30-Jan. 6, 2024. Only one elk may be taken during the license year.

DEER, ARCHERY (Antlered and Antlerless) WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D: Sept. 16-Nov. 11, Sunday Nov. 12, Nov. 13-18, Sunday Nov. 19, Nov. 20-24 and Dec. 26-Jan. 27, 2024. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license. One antlered deer per hunting license year.

DEER, ARCHERY (Antlered and Antlerless) Statewide: Sept30Nov. 11, Sunday Nov. 12, Nov. 13-17 and Dec. 26-Jan. 15, 2024. One antlered deer per hunting license year. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER, ANTLERLESS MUZZLELOADER (Statewide): Oct. 14-21. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER, ANTLERLESS SPECIAL FIREARMS (Statewide): Oct. 19-21. 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 or in the U.S. Coast Guard only, with required antlerless license. 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.

DEER, REGULAR FIREARMS (Antlered and Antlerless) Statewide: Nov. 25, Sunday Nov. 26 and Nov. 27-Dec. 9. One antlered deer per hunting license year. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER, ANTLERED OR ANTLERLESS FLINTLOCK (Statewide): Dec. 26-Jan. 15, 2024. One antlered deer per hunting license year, or one antlerless deer and an additional antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER, ANTLERED OR ANTLERLESS FLINTLOCK (WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D): Dec. 26-Jan. 27, 2024. One antlered deer per hunting license year, or one antlerless deer and an additional antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER, ANTLERLESS EXTENDED REGULAR FIREARMS (WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D): Dec. 26-Jan. 27, 2024. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

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.

PROPOSED 2023-24 FURBEARER HUNTING SEASONS

COYOTE: No closed season. No limit. 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.

FOX: Oct. 21-Feb. 17, 2024. No limit. Sunday hunting permitted.

RACCOON: Oct. 21-Nov. 11, Sunday Nov. 12, Nov. 13-18, Sunday Nov. 19, Nov. 20-25, Sunday Nov. 26 and Nov. 27-Feb. 17, 2024. No limit.

OPOSSUM, STRIPED SKUNK and WEASEL: No closed season, except during the firearms deer season. No Sunday hunting with the exceptions of Nov. 12, Sunday Nov. 19 and Nov. 26. No limits.

BOBCAT (WMUs 2A, 2B, 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E): Jan. 6-31, 2024. One bobcat per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.

PORCUPINE: Oct. 7-Nov. 11, Sunday Nov. 12, Nov. 13-18, Sunday Nov. 19, Nov. 20-24, Dec. 11-23 and Dec. 26-Jan. 27, 2024. (3 daily, season limit of 10).

PROPOSED 2023-24 TRAPPING SEASONS

MINK and MUSKRAT: Nov. 18-Jan. 7, 2024. No limits.

COYOTE, FOX, OPOSSUM, RACCOON, STRIPED SKUNK and WEASEL: Oct. 21-Feb. 18, 2024. No limits.

COYOTE and FOX, CABLE RESTRAINTS (Statewide): Dec. 26-Feb. 18, 2024. No limits. Participants must pass cable restraint certification course.

BEAVER (Statewide): Dec. 16-March 31, 2024 (Limits vary depending on WMU).

BOBCAT (WMUs 2A, 2B, 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E): Dec. 16-Jan. 7, 2024. One bobcat per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.

FISHER (WMUs 1B, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E): Dec. 16-31. One fisher per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.

RIVER OTTER (WMUs 1A, 1B, 2F, 3B, 3C, 3D and 4E): Feb. 10-17, 2024. One river otter per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.

PROPOSED 2023-24 FALCONRY SEASONS

SQUIRRELS (combined): Sept. 1-Nov. 11, Sunday Nov. 12, Nov. 13-18, Sunday Nov. 19, Nov. 20-25, Sunday Nov. 26 and Nov. 27-March 30, 2024 (6 daily, 18 possession).

BOBWHITE QUAIL Sept. 1-Nov. 11, Sunday Nov. 12, Nov. 13-18, Sunday Nov. 19, Nov. 20-25, Sunday Nov. 26 and Nov. 27-March 30, 2024 (No limit).

RUFFED GROUSE Sept. 1-Nov. 11, Sunday Nov. 12, Nov. 13-18, Sunday Nov. 19, Nov. 20-25, Sunday Nov. 26 and Nov. 27-March 30, 2024 (2 daily, 6 possession).

COTTONTAIL RABBIT Sept. 1-Nov. 11, Sunday Nov. 12, Nov. 13-18, Sunday Nov. 19, Nov. 20-25, Sunday Nov. 26 and Nov. 27-March 30, 2024 (4 daily, 12 possession).

SNOWSHOE OR VARYING HARES Sept. 1-Nov. 11, Sunday Nov. 12, Nov. 13-18, Sunday Nov. 19, Nov. 20-25, Sunday Nov. 26 and Nov. 27-March 30, 2024 (1 daily, 3 possession).

PHEASANT (Male or Female combined): Sept. 1-Nov. 11, Sunday Nov. 12, Nov. 13-18, Sunday Nov. 19, Nov. 20-25, Sunday Nov. 26 and Nov. 27-March 30, 2024 (2 daily, 6 possession).

MINK, MUSKRAT, FOX, OPOSSUM, RACCOON, STRIPED SKUNK and WEASEL Sept. 1-Nov. 11, Sunday Nov. 12, Nov. 13-18, Sunday Nov. 19, Nov. 20-25, Sunday Nov. 26 and Nov. 27-March 30, 2024 (No limits).

No open season during the regular firearms deer season.

No hunting on Sundays with the exceptions of Nov. 12, Nov. 19 and Nov. 26.

No open season on other wild birds or mammals.

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

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