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« Last post by mudbrook on October 23, 2017, 10:37:37 AM »

Fall season begins Oct. 28 in most parts of the state; season lengths vary by WMU.

One of Pennsylvania’s most exciting seasons will begin Oct. 28 as hunters head afield in pursuit of a most-coveted game animal – the wild turkey. Hunting season lengths vary according to Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) from closed season to three-plus weeks.

While season lengths in most WMUs remain unchanged from last year, the first season segment has been shortened from three weeks to two in WMU 4E, and from two weeks to one in WMUs 4A and 4B – to help those populations rebound from declining trends, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

A big change this year is the opening of WMU 5B to a three-day Tuesday through Thursday season (Oct. 31 – Nov. 2) because population trends have rebounded sufficient enough to allow for some fall hunting pressure, according to Game Commission wild turkey biologist Mary Jo Casalena.

The three-day Thursday through Saturday season remains intact in WMU 5A to provide greater opportunity for hunters whose schedules do not allow for a weekday hunt. And, as usual, fall turkey hunting remains closed in WMUs 5C and 5D in southern Pennsylvania.

“Now is the time to check the dates of when seasons open and close,” Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans said.

“As is typically the case for the fall turkey season, different season lengths apply in different units, and the seasons in a handful of WMUs have changed this year,” Burhans said.

Hunters who didn’t participate in the fall turkey season during the last few years might be unaware of season length changes in some other WMUs, due to declining population trends and the results of an agency study that showed the longer the fall season the higher the female turkey harvest.

“During the fall season, any turkey can be harvested because jakes, young males, are difficult to distinguish from females,” Casalena said. “Our research shows females (both juvenile and adult) comprise a larger portion of the fall harvest than males. Our management and research also have shown that we shouldn't overharvest females, so we shorten the fall season length when turkey populations decline to allow them to rebound.”

In most of the state, the fall turkey season opens Saturday, Oct. 28. The seasons are as follows: WMU 1B – Oct. 28-Nov. 4; WMU 2B (Shotgun and bow and arrow) – Oct. 28-Nov. 17 and Nov. 23-25; WMUs 1A, 2A, 4A and 4B, – Oct. 28-Nov. 4 and Nov. 23-25; WMUs 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4C, 4D and 4E – Oct. 28-Nov. 11 and Nov. 23-25; WMU 2C – Oct. 28-Nov. 17 and Nov. 23-25; WMU 5A – Nov. 2-4; WMU 5B – Oct. 31-Nov. 2; WMUs 5C and 5D – CLOSED TO FALL TURKEY HUNTING.

Fall turkey forecast
            Last year’s fall harvest of 10,844 was 35 percent below the previous 3-year average of 16,688, likely due to a combination of a decrease in fall hunting participation, shorter fall season lengths in many WMUs, below average turkey reproduction (translating to smaller sized turkey flocks) and abundant acorn crops in much of the state, which tended to scatter flocks making them more difficult to locate, Casalena said.

“Turkey reproduction this summer varied across the state with above average recruitment in some Wildlife Management Units, but below average in neighboring WMUs, so it’s best to get out and see for yourself what the reproduction was like in your area,” Casalena said.

Casalena said acorn, beech and cherry production also varied across the state, with beech nut, white-oak acorn and soft mast production, such as apples and grapes, seeing average to above-average production in many areas, but below average food production elsewhere. Areas with abundant food sources tend to make the flocks more nomadic and, therefore harder for hunters to find. Whereas lack of food tends to keep flocks congregated where the food exists and, therefore easier for hunters to find, she said.

Casalena said the fall season is a great time to introduce a novice turkey hunter to the sport. “It’s not only a great time to be in the woods, but novice turkey callers can be just as successful as a pro when mimicking a lost turkey poult,” she said. “And once a flock is located, I remind hunters that turkeys are tipped off more by movement and a hunter’s outline than fluorescent orange.”

The relatively new Thanksgiving three-day season provides additional opportunities for participation, and is also a very successful season with about 18 percent of the harvest occurring during those three days.

Last year’s fall hunter success rate of 9 percent was similar to the previous three-year average. Fall hunter success varies considerably depending on summer reproduction, food availability, weather during the season, and hunter participation. Hunter success was as high as 21 percent in 2001, a year with excellent recruitment, and as low as 4 percent in 1979.

Hopefully hunter success isn’t measured only by whether or not a turkey is harvested. Enjoying time afield with family, friends, a hunting dog, and/or mentoring a hunter also qualifies as a successful hunt.


Spring harvest

Casalena said the 2017 spring-season harvests (including youth, mentored youth and harvests from the special turkey license that allows hunters to harvest a second bird) totaled 38,101, which was 6 percent above 2016 (35,966) and similar to the previous long-term average. Hunter success for the first bird, 19 percent, also increased from 2016 (15 percent) and was 18 percent above the long-term average of 16 percent.

Pennsylvania hunters have consistently maintained spring harvests above 30,000 bearded turkeys since 1995, exceeding most other states in the nation.


Leg-banded turkeys

Casalena also reminds hunters to report any leg-banded turkeys they harvest or find.

Leg bands are stamped with a toll-free number to call. Although the agency’s research project is completed and rewards are no longer valid, the information provided is still beneficial and hunters can learn the history of the bird.


Fluorescent orange requirements

In most parts of the state, hunters participating in the fall turkey season are required, while moving, to wear at least 250 square inches of fluorescent orange on the head, chest and back combined. Orange must be visible from 360 degrees.

Hunters may remove their orange once in a stationary location, providing that a minimum of 100 square inches of fluorescent orange is posted within 15 feet of the location and is visible from 360 degrees.

In WMU 2B, which is open to shotgun and archery hunting only during the fall turkey season, turkey hunters, while moving, must wear a hat containing at least 100 square inches of solid fluorescent orange material, visible from 360 degrees. While fluorescent orange is not required at stationary locations in WMU 2B, it is strongly recommended.

Archery hunters who are hunting either deer or bear during the overlap with fall turkey season also must wear a fluorescent orange hat at all times when moving. The hat must contain at least 100 square inches of solid, fluorescent orange, visible from 360 degrees, and may be removed once in a stationary location.

Since fluorescent orange requirements have been in place for the fall-turkey season, fall turkey hunting shooting incidents have decreased from 38, three of them fatal, in 1990, to none in 2012 and 2016, and one each year from 2013-2015.


Mentored Hunters

Pennsylvania’s fall turkey season is among those open to Mentored Youth and Mentored Adult hunters. During the fall turkey season, a mentor may transfer his or her fall turkey tag to a Mentored Youth or Mentored Adult hunter.

The Mentored Youth Hunting Program sets out to introduce those under the age of 12 to hunting. Mentored Youth must obtain a $2.90 permit, and must be accompanied at all times by a licensed mentor 21 years or older.

The Mentored Adult Hunting Program seeks to remove obstacles for adults who have an interest in hunting and the opportunity to go hunting with a licensed mentor. The cost of a resident Mentored Adult permit is $20.90 – the same as the cost of a resident hunting license.

Mentored Youth and Mentored Adults can participate in only approved hunting seasons, and the seasons that have been approved for Mentored Youth are different from those for Mentored Adults. Different sets of regulations apply to Mentored Youth and Mentored Adults, as well.
« Last post by mudbrook on September 28, 2017, 07:00:33 PM »

Hunters encouraged to use any of 26 collection bins placed within Disease Management Areas.


Those hunting deer within the state’s Disease Management Areas (DMAs) will have the opportunity to have their deer tested – free of charge – for chronic wasting disease (CWD), and at the same time help the Game Commission fight this deadly disease.

The Game Commission is installing large metal bins at 26 locations for the collection of harvested deer heads within DMA 2 and DMA 3. The bins, which are similar to those used for clothing donations, keep contents secure and will be checked and emptied every other day through the deer-hunting seasons.

All deer heads retrieved from the bins will be tested for CWD, and the hunters who submitted them will be notified of the results, likely within two weeks of drop-off.

This initiative not only will benefit the hunter by identifying deer that shouldn’t be consumed, it will help the Game Commission assess and monitor progress of the disease and the effectiveness of future management actions.

“CWD is an increasing threat to Pennsylvania’s deer and elk, and our hunting tradition,” said Wayne Laroche, Game Commission Special Assistant for CWD Response. “So far this year, the number of CWD-positive deer detected in DMA 2 has increased at a faster rate; the first free-ranging CWD-positive deer has been found within DMA 3; and three new deer farms have turned up positive within DMA 2.

“Still, prevalence of the disease in Pennsylvania is low,” Laroche said. “There’s still a chance to minimize the disease’s impacts on wild deer. And it’s a win-win scenario for the hunters who bring the heads of their harvested deer to a collection bin. Not only do they help protect wild deer against the disease’s spread, if they shoot a diseased animal, they’ll know about it and can discard the meat.”

Collection bins will be placed within both DMA 2 and DMA 3 by the second week in October. Until the bins are available to use, blue, head-collection barrels have been placed for temporary use at all established collection sites.

The exact locations of all collection sites is available on the Chronic Wasting Disease page at The page can be accessed through a link under “Quick Clicks” on the left side of the homepage. And those who purchased Deer Management Assistance Program Permits for Units 2874 and 2875 within DMA 2 and Unit 3045 within DMA 3 have been mailed a letter with the locations.

The permanent bins are white in color and clearly are marked for the collection of deer heads.

The bins are for the collection of deer heads only, and all heads submitted for testing must be lawfully tagged, with the harvest tag legibly completed and attached to the deer’s ear. The information on the tag is needed in order to notify the hunter with test results.

Because the collection bins are secure and will be emptied regularly, hunters can feel comfortable in leaving the tag attached to the ear – a legal requirement for all deer harvests.

All heads deposited in collection bins should be placed in a plastic bag and tied shut. This will help ensure the tag remains with the head, which is important for test-notification purposes. The head can be bagged before being brought to the bin, or hunters can use the bags provided at bins.

The skulls and antlers from heads submitted for testing will not be returned. Hunters who harvest antlered deer within a DMA may remove the antlers before depositing the head.

Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans encouraged all hunters who harvest deer within a DMA to deposit the heads of those deer inside one of the bins.

Other than taking a deer head to a lab for testing, dropping it in a collection bin is the only way to ensure a deer is tested for CWD, Burhans said. While Game Commission staff performs CWD tests on a sample of the deer brought to meat processors statewide, not every deer brought to a processor is tested. But every deer brought to a bin that can be tested, will be tested, and each hunter will be notified of the test results, he said.

“It’s a great opportunity for hunters to be sure CWD is not detected in the deer they harvest,” Burhans said. “And by getting these free tests, hunters also are helping the Game Commission to take action that could prevent CWD’s spread, and preserve many more deer seasons, and many more healthy deer harvests to come.”



CWD in Pennsylvania

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) first was detected in Pennsylvania in 2012 at a captive deer farm in Adams County.

In response, the Game Commission established Disease Management Area 1 (DMA 1), a nearly 600-square-mile area in Adams and York counties, in which restrictions regarding the hunting and feeding of deer applied.

CWD was detected among free-ranging deer a few months later, in three deer harvested by hunters in Bedford and Blair counties in the 2012 firearms season. The deer were detected through the Game Commission’s ongoing CWD surveillance program.

Those CWD-positive deer resulted in the creation of DMA 2, which initially encompassed nearly 900 square miles in parts of Bedford, Blair, Cambria and Huntingdon counties, but since has expanded annually due to the detection of additional free-ranging and captive CWD-positive deer. DMA 2 now encompasses more than 2,845 square miles in parts of Adams, Bedford, Blair Cambria, Clearfield, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon and Somerset counties.

So far, 60 free-ranging CWD-positive deer, and dozens of CWD-positive captive deer, have been detected within the DMA.

In 2014, CWD was detected at a captive deer farm in Jefferson County, leading to the creation of DMA 3, which encompasses about 350 square miles in parts of Clearfield, Indiana and Jefferson counties. In July 2017, a sick-looking adult buck euthanized a month earlier on state game lands in Clearfield County, within DMA 3, was confirmed as CWD-positive.

Additionally, the Game Commission in 2017 eliminated DMA 1. Through five years of monitoring, which included the testing of 4,800 wild deer within DMA 1, CWD never was found in the wild within DMA 1.

Hunters harvesting deer within DMAs are prohibited from transporting the high-risk parts of those deer (head and backbone) outside the DMA. If those hunters live outside the DMA, and are processing the deer themselves, they must remove and properly dispose of the high-risk parts before taking other parts of the deer home.

Deer meat may be transported outside a DMA so long as the backbone has been removed. Antlers may also be transported from a DMA if the skull plate is free of visible brain material.

Hunters using professional meat processors to process the meat from deer they harvest within a DMA must take the deer to processors within the DMA, or otherwise included on the list of approved processors associated with that DMA. There’s also a list of approved taxidermists associated with each DMA.

The feeding of deer and the use or field possession of urine-based deer lures while hunting also are prohibited within DMAs.

PA Game Commision News / IT’S HUNTING TIME
« Last post by mudbrook on October 12, 2016, 05:46:12 PM »

Many seasons await Pennsylvanians.


The leaves might be greener than usual for this time of year, but it’s mid-October nonetheless.

And in Pennsylvania, it’s prime time for hunting.

While hunting opportunities exist throughout the year in Pennsylvania, and some fall hunting seasons already are underway, the majority of seasons are entering their stretch runs toward opening day.

This weekend hosts five awaited openers – the first day of the regular squirrel and rabbit hunting seasons, the opening day of the one-week muzzleloader season for antlerless deer, and the first day of the seasons for ruffed grouse and woodcock. Saturday also is the first day of duck season in southern portions of Pennsylvania.

These openers lead the way for the Oct. 22 opening day of the pheasant season, as well as the opening days for foxes and other species. Several big-game seasons lie just beyond.

All of this means hunters will become a more common sight throughout the Commonwealth.

Statewide, hunters are reminded that hunting with a firearm is not permitted within 150 yards of any occupied structure, school, farm building or playground unless prior permission is obtained from the building’s occupants or property owners. This perimeter is known as a “safety zone,” and possessing a loaded firearm within a safety zone is considered hunting and a violation of the law. Trapping furbearers, and chasing or disturbing wildlife also are prohibited within a safety zone, unless permission is given.

A similar law applies to hunters using bows or crossbows, but the safety-zone perimeter is smaller in most circumstances. Archers and hunters using crossbows must remain at least 50 yards from any occupied structure or farm building unless they receive permission from the building occupants or property owners to hunt at closer distances. The safety zone around schools and playgrounds remains 150 yards for archers, however.

Hunters also are reminded that fluorescent orange requirements vary depending on the species being hunted. Illustrations depicting the requirements that apply in different seasons can be found in the 2016-17 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest issued to hunters at the time they purchase hunting licenses. The digest also is available online at the Game Commission’s website.

Each hunter taking part in the upcoming early muzzleloader season for antlerless deer needs to wear a minimum of 250 square inches of fluorescent orange on the head, chest and back, combined. The orange each hunter wears must be visible from all directions (360 degrees) and must be worn at all times while hunting. This requirement applies to hunters who participate simultaneously in the muzzleloader and archery deer seasons.

During the one-week early muzzleloader season, properly licensed hunters are permitted to carry both a muzzleloader and a bow or crossbow. A hunter would need both archery and muzzleloader stamps, plus a general hunting and an appropriate antlerless deer license, Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permit or Disease Management Area 2 (DMA 2) permit.

While hunters who are taking part strictly in the archery season are required during the early muzzleloader overlap to wear 250 square inches of fluorescent orange while moving, they are permitted to remove their orange once settled into a stationary position. Archery hunters who remove orange clothing are required to post 100 square inches of orange within 15 feet of their locations, and the posted orange must be visible from all directions.

Archery hunters who are simultaneously participating in the early muzzleloader season, however, must follow the orange requirements for early muzzleloader.

To participate in the early muzzleloader season, a hunter must have a valid Pennsylvania general hunting license, a muzzleloader stamp and valid antlerless deer license, DMAP permit or DMA 2 permit.

Antlerless deer licenses in Pennsylvania are valid only within the Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) for which they are issued. Likewise, DMAP permits are issued for certain properties and are valid only on those properties. Maps showing the boundaries of WMUs are available in the Hunting & Trapping Digest.

Hunters during the early muzzleloader season may use in-line, percussion and flintlock muzzleloaders, and sporting arms may be equipped with scopes, peep-sights and other lawful sighting devices.

The one-week early muzzleloader season includes a three-day overlap with a special firearms season for antlerless deer.

During that season, which runs from Oct. 20 to Oct. 22, junior hunters (ages 12 to 16), senior hunters (ages 65 and older), mentored youth (hunters who are younger than 12, but who obtain a permit to hunt), mentored adults (hunters 18 or older who obtain a permit to hunt), hunters who are on active military duty, and certain disabled hunters are able to use a variety of sporting arms to harvest antlerless deer.

Permitted sporting arms include manually operated centerfire rifles, handguns and shotguns; .44-caliber or larger muzzleloading long guns; .50-caliber or larger muzzleloading handguns; long, recurve or compound bows; and crossbows.

To take part in the special firearms season, hunters must meet participation criteria and possess a general hunting license and valid antlerless deer license, DMAP permit or DMA 2 permit. Hunters also must wear a minimum of 250 square inches of fluorescent orange at all times.

Each mentored youth or mentored adult hunter taking part in the special firearms season must possess a valid permit, and the mentor who accompanies a mentored youth or mentored adult afield must possess a valid antlerless deer license, DMAP permit or DMA 2 permit. The antlerless deer license or permit can be transferred upon harvest by a mentored youth or mentored adult, and each mentored youth or mentored adult hunter may receive only one antlerless deer license and one DMAP permit by transfer during a license year. 

For a more detailed look at the regulations pertaining to these and other seasons, or to view hunting season start and end dates, as well as bag limits, visit the Game Commission’s website.

There’s a lot of hunting in store.

“There’s no better time of year to get out and enjoy the Pennsylvania outdoors, and there’s no better way to spend a fall day than by going hunting,” said Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough. “In the coming weeks, seasons will continue to open and hunters will continue to share in the bounty of Pennsylvania’s wild game. But all who have the chance to spend even one gorgeous autumn day afield can consider themselves lucky,” Hough said.



Venison care

While hunting in October often offers pleasant days afield, the warm weather also presents challenges for successful deer hunters in assuring harvests result in high-quality venison.

Especially in warm weather, harvested deer should be field dressed quickly, then taken from the field and cooled down as soon as possible. While hanging a deer carcass in a shady area might be fine in cooler temperatures, if the air temperature is above 50 degrees, hunters should refrigerate the carcass as soon as possible.

Information on warm-weather venison care, as well as instructions on deer processing and other tips, are available on the white-tailed deer page on the Game Commission’s website,


Reporting harvests

Hunters must report deer harvests, and they are encouraged to do so soon after their successful hunts, so they don’t forget.

There are three ways to report harvests. Harvests can be reported online at the Game Commission’s website by clicking on the “Report a Harvest” button on the homepage. Reports also can be phoned in to 1-855-PAHUNT1 (1-855-724-8681), or mailed in using the harvest report cards that are inserted in the Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest hunters receive when they purchase a license.

Hunters who call should have their hunting license numbers handy, as well as additional information that’s required to be reported.


   Mistake kills

                Hunters participating in the early muzzleloader season to begin Saturday or the special firearms season to begin Oct. 20 only may harvest antlerless deer.

Any hunter in any season who, by accident or mistake, kills an illegal deer is required to deliver the carcass – entrails removed – within 24 hours to any Game Commission officer in the county where the deer was killed.

                A written statement must be provided to the officer, explaining when, where and how the accident or mistake occurred. The deer must be tagged with the appropriate deer harvest tag.


Rifle deer season

As it has traditionally, the two-week firearms season for deer will open statewide on the Monday following Thanksgiving.

The statewide season this year runs from Nov. 28  to Dec. 10.

Hunters in different parts of the state are required to observe different rules regarding the number of points an antlered deer must have and when during the season hunters may harvest antlerless deer.
« Last post by mudbrook on October 05, 2016, 08:40:11 PM »

Junior pheasant season begins Saturday, with statewide opener just weeks away.

A memorable season in which more birds will be released statewide awaits Pennsylvania’s pheasant hunters.
And as scary as it might seem, without a license-fee increase in the very near future, this might well be the last year the Game Commission releases pheasants for hunters.
The pheasant season kicks off Saturday, Oct. 8, with the start of the one-week season for junior hunters. Then on Saturday, Oct. 22, the season opens to hunters statewide.
In total, about 240,000 pheasants – about 25,000 more than last year – are scheduled for release statewide for the 2016-17 seasons.
The increase is due to several factors that have come together for the benefit of hunters.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission has planned some changes to its pheasant-propagation program to cut costs. Instead of raising chicks from breeder pheasants at the Game Commission’s game farms, the agency in 2017 plans to begin purchasing day-old chicks from private propagators.
The move is expected to save more than $200,000 annually, but this year also contributes to an increased number of pheasants released, since birds that would have been kept as breeders instead can be released on public-hunting grounds.
Additionally, the Game Commission purchased about 15,000 day-old chicks this year in a test run to ensure its program could operate smoothly if it transitions to purchasing all chicks to be raised. Those birds will be released, as well.
And while the agency took deliberate action to reduce production due to the anticipated increases from the release of breeder birds and the chicks that were purchased, this year experienced the highest hatch rate in recent memory.
All of this adds up to more pheasants afield in 2016-17.
“Against all odds, Pennsylvania’s pheasant hunters once again have plenty to be excited about this year,” said Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough. “It’s no secret the Game Commission has been navigating some rough financial waters; 17 years without one adjustment for inflation to our primary source of revenue – the hunting license – will do that.
“We have been forced as an agency to make many cuts to staff and programs, and moves to make the pheasant propagation program less costly are among these,” he said. “Fortunately for pheasant hunters, however, those moves will result this year in more ringnecks released statewide, adding even more excitement to some of the best hunting action around.
“But the future of pheasant hunting in Pennsylvania might not be as bright,” Hough said.
About 17,000 pheasants are scheduled for release for the weeklong junior-only season, which begins Oct. 8. Then, in mid-October several consecutive weekly releases of pheasants will begin, to be followed by a late-season release of hen pheasants.
The statewide pheasant season begins Oct. 22 and runs through Nov. 26, then reopens on Dec. 12, ending on the last day of February.
The additional releases of birds that were purchased as chicks or would have been maintained as breeding stock should be noticeable, said Robert C. Boyd, who oversees the Game Commission’s pheasant propagation program.
“These extra birds are being stocked during the second, third and fourth in-season releases, and the winter release,” Boyd said. “So while releases ahead of the junior season and statewide opener will continue to provide the typical early-season action, those who keep hunting through the season also are bound to encounter increased flushes and sustained opportunity to harvest pheasants,” Boyd said.
The best pheasant-hunting habitat and hunter access occur on more than 230 tracts of state game lands and other public lands under cooperative management with the Game Commission, and about 75 percent of the pheasants are stocked there.
The remaining 25 percent are released on private lands enrolled in the Game Commission’s Hunter Access Program.
The Game Commission stocks pheasants as a service to its hunters.  The program cost $4.3 million last year, but it has its benefits.
Nearly 100,000 hunters participate in pheasant hunting in Pennsylvania, racking up nearly 400,000 hunter days and contributing $30 million to $40 million to the state's economy. And surveys have indicated nearly 80 percent of hunters support the pheasant stocking program.
A wealth of information on ring-necked pheasants, the Game Commission’s pheasant management program, and stockings statewide can be found at by searching “pheasant allocation.”
Only roosters may be hunted in many WMUs, check Page 48 of the 2016-17 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest for details. The daily limit is two pheasants.
The digest is issued to all hunters at the time they buy their licenses, and also is available online through the Game Commission’s home page.
Hunters also should note that pheasant hunting is closed in all Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas, where the Game Commission is attempting to restore self-sustaining wild pheasant populations. Maps of Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas begin on Page 50 of the digest.
Hough said the agency remains committed to its pheasant program, which celebrated 100 years in 2015, despite hard times financially. As revenues continue to decline, however, it’s uncertain how the program might change, he said.
“But this year, for certain, pheasant hunters have a lot to look forward to,” Hough said.

In recent years, the Game Commission has released more than 200,000 pheasants annually on state game lands and other properties open to public hunting.

And the agency wants as many of those birds as possible to end up in hunters’ game bags.

In working toward this end, the Game Commission last year conducted a study into existing pheasant harvest rates.

The agency last studied pheasant harvest rates in 1998, when the harvest rate was about 50 percent for Game Commission-raised pheasants released within or just before the hunting seasons.

For last year’s study, agency staff affixed leg bands to 5,566 pheasants. Some of the bands carried a $100 reward, which typically results in nearly a 100-percent reporting rate, increasing the study’s efficiency.

Banded pheasants were released in all Wildlife Management Units, except WMU 5D. Each band had its own identification number, as well as a toll free number to call and report. Banded pheasants were placed in labeled crates to identify where and when they were released.

Reports were accepted for all banded birds, regardless of their cause of death.

In all, 2,073 banded pheasants were recovered, with the reporting rate for non-reward bands coming in at nearly 68 percent.

Forty-three pheasants were found dead and reported. The cause of death was reported as unknown for 24 of them, while 14 were killed on roads and five were killed by predators.

The remaining pheasants were harvested by hunters.

Although most band recoveries occurred on the same property where pheasants were released, one pheasant released in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area was recovered in New Jersey, and road-killed pheasants were recovered up to 10 miles from their stocking locations.

Overall, the pheasant harvest rate was 49.1 percent.

Males were harvested at a higher rate (53.8 percent) than females (41.1 percent), perhaps due to hunter selectivity.

Harvest rates were higher on game lands (48.7 percent) and other public properties (50.7 percent) than they were on privately owned Hunter Access properties (37.3 percent). This could result from greater hunter effort on public property.

Harvest rates were lowest for pheasants released for the Junior Hunt (40.6 percent), likely due to hunter inexperience, and that pheasants need to survive two weeks or more to make it to the regular season.

Similarly, the harvest rate of pheasants stocked preseason was 46.7 percent.

Harvest rates were highest and nearly identical for the first three in-season releases, where the harvest rate averaged 52.9 percent.

More pheasants were harvested on Saturdays (36.1 percent) and Fridays (26.8 percent), with the smallest percent taken on Tuesdays (6.1 percent).

Harvest rates also varied depending on day of week pheasants were stocked.

During the four in-season stockings, harvests were highest for pheasants released Wednesday through Fridays (50 to 53 percent), and 47.1 percent on Tuesdays.

While overall harvest rates and patterns shown by the latest study generally are consistent with those in the 1998 study, the results still provide a good start in identifying how changes to pheasant-release strategies might increase harvest rates.

Clearly, releasing pheasants on public properties later in the week results in the highest harvest rates.

And maintaining a high number of pheasants released, particularly in the first few weeks of the season, should result in more pheasants bagged by hunters.

« Last post by mudbrook on May 06, 2015, 11:00:05 AM »

Disease Management Area 2 again expanded due to new cases.


From the start of 2014 through the present, six additional cases of chronic wasting disease have been documented in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Game Commission announced today.

All six deer to test positive were killed on highways within Disease Management Area 2 (DMA 2), the only area of the state where chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been detected in free-ranging deer.

None of the samples collected from deer or elk harvested by hunters anywhere in the state during the 2014-15 hunting seasons tested positive for CWD, and no road-killed deer or elk from outside DMA 2 tested positive.

Additionally, no new cases have been detected in captive deer or elk outside the borders of an established Disease Management Area (DMA).

However, the boundary of DMA 2 again has been expanded because CWD-positive deer detected within DMA 2 or in Maryland were near previous boundaries. Pennsylvania’s CWD Response Plan requires a 10-mile buffer around sites associated with positive tests.

DMA 2 now encompasses parts of Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Huntington, Fulton and Somerset counties.

CWD is not known to afflict humans, but is always fatal to the deer and elk it infects.


Sampling in 2014-15

The Game Commission sampled 4,266 deer statewide during 2014. Of these, 1,701 were from DMAs.

DMA 1 (York and Adams counties) accounted for 520 samples, 938 samples came from DMA 2, and there were 243 samples from DMA 3 (Clearfield, Indiana and Jefferson counties).

Additionally, the Game Commission sampled 89 elk for CWD in 2014, and no positives were detected.

In Pennsylvania, monitoring for CWD continues year-round and since the start of 2015, 253 additional samples have been collected. One of these tested positive, and is counted among the six additional positives within DMA 2.

The six additional CWD-positive deer brings the total to 11 free-ranging CWD-positive deer detected in Pennsylvania. All of these have been within DMA 2.

Overall, the proportion of deer to test positive remains small.

Since 1998, the Game Commission has collected and submitted more than 52,000 wild deer and elk for CWD testing, with a total of 11 positive tests.


DMA 2 expands

While most of the six additional CWD cases were centralized within DMA 2, two of the positive deer came from sites near what previously was DMA 2’s western boundary.

One of them, an 18-month-old male deer, was struck and killed by a vehicle on Route 220 in November in Bedford County. The other, a 30-month-old female, was killed in March on state Route 56, also in Bedford County.

In response to those positives, and in accordance with Pennsylvania’s CWD Response Plan, the boundary of DMA 2 again has been adjusted, and DMA 2 now contains parts of Somerset County, in addition to other counties.

The new DMA 2 boundary is as follows: Beginning in the southeastern extent of the DMA at the intersection of state Route 655 and the Maryland state line, proceed north on Route 655 for approximately 57 miles to the intersection of U.S. Route 22. The DMA boundary follows U.S. Route 22 west for 16.6 miles to state Route 453, then south along state Route 453 for 9 miles to Tyrone. In Tyrone, the boundary follows the western, southbound lane of Interstate 99 for 6.5 miles to state Route 865 at Bellwood. Follow state Route 865 west 2.75 miles to Grandview Road (state Route 4015). Follow Grandview Road south 6.4 miles to Juniata Gap Road in Altoona. Follow Juniata Gap Road 4 miles to Skyline Drive. Follow Skyline Drive approximately 2 miles to state Route 36. Follow state Route 36 west 1.5 miles to Coupon-Gallitzin Road (state Route 1015).  Follow Coupon-Gallitzin Road south 5 ¼ miles to U.S. Route 22. Follow U.S. Route 22 west for approximately 4 miles to state Route 53. Follow state Route 53 south 9.3 miles to state Route 160. Follow state Route 160 south 45.4 miles to the borough of Berlin, take Main Street (state Route 2030) west through downtown Berlin for 0.44 miles, then south along state Route 219 for 20 miles to the Maryland border.

A map of the newly expanded DMA 2 is available on the CWD Information page at the Game Commission’s website, Because the boundaries of DMAs change in response to new positives being detected, the website is always the best source for the most up-to-date DMA maps and descriptions.


DMA 2 Antlerless Deer Permits

The Game Commission in the 2015-16 license year again will issue special permits for taking antlerless deer within DMA 2.

DMA 2 Antlerless Deer Permits will become available at the same time antlerless licenses go on sale.

The DMA 2 permits were created as a way to direct hunting pressure to DMA 2. The permits seek to increase the antlerless deer harvest within DMA 2 by one deer per square mile.

A total of 13,500 permits have been allocated and the permits can be used only within DMA 2, which includes parts of Bedford, Blair, Huntingdon, Cambria, Fulton and Somerset counties.
Hunters may apply for DMA 2 permits in addition regular antlerless deer licenses. Obtaining one or more DMA 2 permits does not reduce the number of antlerless deer licenses for which a hunter may apply.
There are some differences between the application process for a DMA 2 permit and that for an antlerless license.

Only residents and nonresidents ages 12 and older with valid general hunting licenses may apply for permits. Participants in Mentored Youth and Mentored Adult hunting programs are ineligible to apply, and the permits cannot be transferred to participants in those programs.

Each permit costs $6.70, and payments must be made by credit card, check or money order made payable to the “Pennsylvania Game Commission.”

Applications for DMA 2 permits will be accepted in two ways – electronically through the Game Commission’s Outdoor Shop,, or by mail. Those wishing to send applications by mail can obtain an application form at the Game Commission’s website, the agency’s Harrisburg headquarters or any region office.

The application schedule is similar to that for antlerless deer licenses, however, residents and nonresidents can apply on the same dates in all rounds.

Applications will be accepted beginning Monday, July 13. Each eligible applicant may submit one application during this first round, which lasts three weeks.

Beginning Aug. 3, a second round of application begins. Again in the second round, each eligible applicant may submit one application. However, an applicant who did not submit an application during the first round may submit two during the second round.

A third round of applications will begin Aug. 17. Eligible applicants may submit an unlimited number of applications during this round, and the round will continue until all permits have been issued.

A DMA 2 permit can be used to harvest an antlerless deer during any deer season, including the antlered deer season.

Those who are issued DMA 2 permits are required to submit reports, regardless of whether they harvest a deer. Hunters who take a deer with a DMA 2 permit must report within 10 days; those who don’t must report by Feb. 2. Those who fail to report as required are subject to criminal prosecution and may be ineligible to apply for permits if the program is continued the following year.

Through their reports, hunters provide valuable data that plays a crucial role in the Game Commission’s management of CWD.


Rules within DMAs

Those who hunt or live within established Disease Management Areas need to be aware of special rules that apply to the hunting, processing and feeding of deer.

Hunters harvesting deer within any DMA are not permitted to remove from the DMA any deer parts with a high risk of transmitting the disease. There are a few exceptions to this rule, including taking a deer to an approved deer processor or taxidermist outside the DMA, or traveling to an approved laboratory for disease testing.

The possession of urine-based deer attractants also is prohibited within any DMA, as is the direct or indirect feeding of deer. The feeding of elk is unlawful everywhere in Pennsylvania.

A complete list of rules applying to DMAs can be found in a Game Commission executive order, which also is available at the agency’s website.

The head and spinal column are among the identified high-risk parts that cannot be removed from a DMA. Meat and antlers can be removed, so long as the backbone is separated from the meat and left behind, and the skull plate attached to the antlers is free of visible brain material.

A complete list of high-risk parts is available at the Game Commission’s website.

Many hunters who harvest deer within DMAs take their deer to processors and taxidermists within those DMAs in order to comply with the law. Those who do their own processing may remove and safely dispose of high-risk parts in dumpsters placed on game lands tracts within the DMA. Sites are identified prior to hunting seasons.


CWD Information

While chronic wasting disease is relatively new to Pennsylvania, it is not a new disease. CWD was discovered in 1967, and it has been researched in great detail since then.
CWD affects members of the cervid, or deer family. It is spread from animal to animal by direct and indirect contact.
There currently is no practical way to test live animals for CWD, nor is there a vaccine. Clinical signs include poor posture, lowered head and ears, uncoordinated movement, rough-hair coat, weight loss, increased thirst, excessive drooling, and, ultimately death. Any animals suspected of having CWD should be reported to the Game Commission.
There currently is no scientific evidence that CWD has or can spread to humans, either through contact with infected animals or by eating the meat of infected animals. As a precaution, however, people are advised not to consume meat from animals infected with CWD.
Much more information on CWD, as well as a video instructing hunters on how they can process venison for transport and consumption, is available at the Game Commission’s website
« Last post by mudbrook on April 23, 2015, 01:25:23 PM »

Allocation set for antlerless deer licenses, elk licenses.


The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today set hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits for the 2015-16 license year, which begins July 1.

A list of all seasons and bag limits appears at the end of this news release.

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 746,500 antlerless deer licenses statewide. Allocations by Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) are as follows, with the allocation from the previous license year appearing in parentheses: WMU 1A 46,000 (47,000); WMU 1B 29,000 (30,000); WMU 2A 43,000 (46,000); WMU 2B 61,000 (60,000); WMU 2C 31,000 (38,000); WMU 2D 55,000 (61,000); WMU 2E 21,000 (21,000); WMU 2F 22,000 (27,000); WMU 2G 22,000 (22,000); WMU 2H 6,500 (5,500); WMU 3A 19,000 (18,000); WMU 3B 28,000 (33,000);WMU 3C 36,000 (32,000); WMU 3D 25,000 (25,000); WMU 4A 30,000 (28,000); WMU 4B 26,000 (26,000); WMU 4C 25,000 (25,000); WMU 4D 33,000 (33,000); WMU 4E 25,000 (21,000); WMU 5A 19,000 (19,000); WMU 5B 50,000 (49,000); WMU 5C 70,000 (95,000); and WMU 5D 24,000 (18,000).

Hunters should note the boundaries have changed for WMUs 5C and 5D, and that WMUs 1A, 1B, 3A and 3D have been added to the split-season format that offers five days of antlered deer-only hunting followed by seven days of concurrent antlered and antlerless hunting during the statewide firearms deer season.

Concurrent hunting for antlered and antlerless deer throughout the entire firearms deer season remains in WMUs 2B, 5A, 5B and 5C. 

The board also directed that 13,500 antlerless permits be made available to hunt and harvest deer within Disease Management Area 2, which in the 2015-16 license year will include parts of Bedford, Blair, Huntingdon, Cambria, Fulton and Somerset counties. This is the second year for the permit, which is meant to reduce antlerless deer numbers in the only area of the state where chronic wasting disease has been detected among free-ranging deer.

Hunting licenses for 2015-16 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 2015-16 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest presented to each license buyer. The 2015-16 digest also will be available at the Game Commission’s website, in mid-June

The board on Friday also voted to issue 116 elk licenses (21 antlered, 95 antlerless) for the 2015 hunt.

The licenses again will be awarded by lottery, and the deadline to enter the drawing is July 31.

Elk applications cost $10.70, and only one application may be submitted each license year.

Other modifications proposed for the 2015-16 seasons include extending the squirrel, rabbit and pheasant seasons to end on the last day of February, opening bobwhite quail season in all but one of the state’s Wildlife Management Units; expanding the crow hunting season to include an additional weekend; decreasing the length of the fall turkey season in WMUs 2E, 3D, 4A, 4B and 4D  to create a two-week fall season, plus a three-day Thanksgiving season; running the archery deer season from Sept. 19 through Nov. 28 in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D; and implementing a conservative-harvest river otter season in WMUs 3C and 3D.

Several highlights pertaining to 2015-16 seasons and bag limits follow.




The Board of Game Commissioners adopted a slate of deer seasons for 2015-16, giving final approval to a split, five-day antlered deer season (Nov. 30-Dec. 4) and seven-day concurrent season (Dec. 5-12) in 18 Wildlife Management Units. The list includes (WMUs) 1A, 1B, 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E. The package also retains the two-week (Nov. 30-Dec. 12) concurrent, antlered and antlerless deer season in WMUs 2B, 5A, 5B, 5C and 5D.

Hunters with Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) antlerless deer permits may use the permits on the lands for which they were issued during any established deer season, and will continue to be permitted to harvest antlerless deer from Nov. 30- Dec. 12 in 1A, 1B, 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E. Fees for DMAP permits are $10.70 for residents and $35.70 for nonresidents.

DMAP permits also may be transferred to Mentored Hunting Program participants.

The board retained antler restrictions in place for adult and senior license holders. The restrictions  remain as “three-up” on one side, not counting a brow tine, for the western Wildlife Management Units of 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B and 2D, and the 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.

Another deer-season change to gain final approval applies to Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C and 5D, where the archery season has traditionally opened early, with the first weeks being open to antlerless deer hunting only.

The commissioners gave final approval to concurrent hunting of antlered and antlerless deer in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D during all seasons, with the first segment of the archery season to run from Sept. 19 to Nov. 28 in those WMUs.




The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to a limited otter trapping season that allows for a conservative harvest of otters for the first time in Pennsylvania in more than a half-century.

With the vote, otters can be harvested by licensed furtakers who also obtain a separate otter permit.

The otter season is three days long – from Feb. 21, 2016 to Feb. 23, 2016 – with an option for the Game Commission to extend the season by an additional five days. Those with a valid permit are able to harvest, by trapping only, one otter during the season. The season will be open only in WMUs 3C and 3D, in the northeastern part of the state.

Otter trapping regulations largely follow those for beavers. It is unlawful to place, or make use of, materials or products except raw native wood or stone to direct the travel of otters. Manmade materials may be used only to support traps or snares.

It also is unlawful to check, set, reset or otherwise maintain otter traps or snares, or remove otters from a traps or snares, unless the person is identified by the attached name tag as the owner.

Tagging requirements for those harvesting otters are identical to the requirements for tagging bobcats and fishers. Before removing an otter from the location where it was caught, the trapper must fully complete and attach to the animal a tag furnished with the permit. The tag would need to remain attached until a Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) tag is attached, if applicable, or the animal is mounted, tanned, made into a commercial fur or prepared for consumption.

Those harvesting otters would be required to report harvests within 24 hours, which is less time compared to the 48 hours allotted to those harvesting fishers and bobcats.

The creation of an otter season also would have an impact on beaver trappers within the WMUs where an otter season is open.

Within any WMU with an open otter trapping season, beaver trappers are able to use no more than five traps or snares, and no more than two traps can be body-gripping traps. This limitation is applicable during periods when the open beaver trapping season overlaps by calendar date with the open otter trapping season, and it extends for five additional, consecutive days after the close of the otter season.

Ordinarily, beaver trappers are limited to 10 traps, two of which may be body-gripping.

There has been no season for harvest of river otters in Pennsylvania since 1952. But most other states that now have sustainable otter populations have implemented a season. In fact, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island are the only eastern states without a season for river-otter harvest, and Indiana is in the process of starting a regulated otter harvest.

In Pennsylvania, river otters continue to thrive and are among the many great success stories in wildlife conservation.

It is estimated that as much as 75 percent of America’s otter population had been lost by the start of the 20th century, due to factors including habitat destruction, water pollution and unregulated harvest.

Otters never were completely extirpated in Pennsylvania, though their numbers were reduced vastly. The Pocono region, particularly the counties of Wayne, Pike and Monroe, continued to sustain otters.

With a cleaner environment and otter populations restored through reintroduction programs and natural dispersal, otter populations are increasing across their range in Pennsylvania.

Today, they are present in almost every county and, in a lot of areas, they’re becoming as common as beavers.

An otter permit will cost $6.70.




The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to fall turkey seasons for 2015 and spring gobbler dates for 2016.

The slate of turkey seasons approved reduces the length of the fall seasons three weeks to two weeks in five Wildlife Management Units – WMUs 2E, 3D, 4A, 4B and 4D.

In addition to a two-week fall season, the three-day Thanksgiving season would continue to be held in those WMUs.

Game Commission staff said both the spring harvest density and the summer sighting index have declined in those WMUs and, in accordance with the Wild Turkey Management Plan, a decrease in season length is recommended.

The fall season dates for 2015, approved by the board today, are: WMU 1B, Oct. 31-Nov.7 and Nov. 26-28; WMU 2B (shotgun and bow only), Oct. 31-Nov. 20, and Nov. 26-28; WMUs 1A, 2A, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B and 4D; Oct. 31-Nov. 14, and Nov. 26-28; WMUs 2C, 4C and 4E, Oct. 31-Nov. 20, and Nov. 26-28; and WMU 5A, Nov. 5-7. WMUs 5B, 5C and 5D will remain closed for the fall seasons.

The 2016 spring gobbler season will to run from April 30-May 31. the board continued the change in legal hunting hours to reflect the following: from April 30-May 14, legal shooting hours will be one-half hour before sunrise until noon timeframe; and from May 16-31, hunters may hunt all day, from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.

The board adopted a one-day Spring Gobbler Youth Hunt on April 23, 2016, 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 one-day hunt, as well as the other spring season dates.




The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today voted to extend the late-season segments of the squirrel, ring-necked pheasant and cottontail rabbit seasons.

In the 2015-16 license year, those seasons will end on Feb. 29.

The change comes after testimony offered Thursday by four rabbit hunters, who noted a number of other states end rabbit seasons annually on the last day of February, and that the majority of rabbits harvested during the late season are males.

Game Commission staff advised there is no biological evidence to suggest adverse impacts will result from adding another eight or nine days to a season that initially was proposed to end on Feb. 20.




SQUIRRELS, Red, Gray, Black and Fox (Combined): Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license, and mentored youth – Oct. 10-16 (6 daily, 18 in possession limit after first day).


SQUIRRELS, Red, Gray, Black and Fox (Combined): Oct. 17-Nov. 28; Dec. 14-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 29 (6 daily, 18 possession).


RUFFED GROUSE: Oct. 17–Nov. 28, Dec. 14-24 and Dec. 26-Jan. 23 (2 daily, 6 possession).


RABBIT (Cottontail) Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license: Oct. 10-17 (4 daily, 12 possession).


RABBIT (Cottontail): Oct. 24-Nov. 28, Dec. 14-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 29 (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 pheasants only in WMUs 2A, 2C, 4C, 4E, 5A and 5B. Male and female pheasants may be taken in all other WMUs. There is no open season for the taking of pheasants in any Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas in any WMU.


PHEASANT: Male only in WMUs 2A, 2C, 4C, 4E, 5A and 5B. Male and female may be taken in all other WMUs – Oct. 24-Nov. 28, Dec. 14-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 29 (2 daily, 6 in possession). There is no open season for the taking of pheasants in any Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas in any WMU.


BOBWHITE QUAIL: Oct. 24-Nov. 28 (4 daily, 12 possession). (Closed in 5A, Open in all other WMUs.)


HARES (SNOWSHOE RABBITS) OR VARYING HARES: Dec. 26–Jan.1, in all WMUs except WMUs 3B, 3C and 3D, where season will run from Dec. 26-29 (1 daily, 3 possession).


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


PORCUPINES: Sept. 1-March 31, except during overlap with the regular firearms deer season. (3 daily, season limit of 10).


CROWS: July 3-April 10, 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): WMU 1B – Oct. 31-Nov. 7 and Nov. 26-28; WMU 2B (Shotgun and bow and arrow) – Oct. 31-Nov. 20 and Nov. 26-28; WMUs 1A, 2A, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B and 4D– Oct. 31-Nov. 14 and Nov. 26-28; WMUs 2C, 4C and 4E– Oct. 31-Nov. 20  and Nov. 26-28; WMU 5A – Nov. 5-7; WMUs 5B, 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 23, 2016. Only 1 spring gobbler may be taken during this hunt.


SPRING GOBBLER (Bearded bird only): April 30-May 31, 2016. Daily limit 1, season limit 2. (Second spring gobbler may be only taken by persons who possess a valid special wild turkey license.) From April 30-May 14, legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until noon; from May 16-31, legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.


BLACK BEAR (Statewide) Archery: Nov. 16-20. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.


BLACK BEAR (Statewide): Nov. 21-25. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.


BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2C, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E): Dec. 2-5. 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.


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


BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D) archery: Sept. 19-Nov. 14. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.


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


BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D) muzzleloader: Oct. 17-24. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.


BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D) special firearms: Oct. 22-24, for junior and senior license holders, disabled hunters with a permit to use a vehicle as a blind and resident active duty military.


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


ELK, EXTENDED (Antlered and Antlerless): Nov. 9-14. Only one elk may be taken during the license year. Eligible elk license recipients who haven’t harvested an elk by Nov. 8, in designated areas.



DEER, ARCHERY (Antlered and Antlerless) WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D: Sept. 19- Nov. 28 and Dec. 26-Jan. 23, 2016. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license. One antlered deer per hunting license year.


DEER, ARCHERY (Antlered and Antlerless) Statewide: Oct. 3-Nov. 14 and Dec. 26-Jan. 9. One antlered deer per hunting license year. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.


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


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


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


DEER, ANTLERED OR ANTLERLESS FLINTLOCK (Statewide): Dec. 26-Jan. 9. 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, 5D): Dec. 26-Jan. 23. 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: (Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties): Dec. 26-Jan. 23. 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.





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, 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4C, 4D and 4E): Jan. 16-Feb. 9. One bobcat per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.





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




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


BEAVERS (Statewide): Dec. 26–March 31 (Limits vary depending on WMU).


BOBCATS (WMUs 2A, 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 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, 4D and 4E): Dec. 19-24. One fisher per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.


RIVER OTTERS (WMUs 3C and 3D): Feb. 21-23, 2016. One river otter per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.







SNOWSHOE OR VARYING HARES, RINGNECK PHEASANTS (Male or Female combined): Sept. 1-March 31. Daily and Field Possession limits vary. (Migratory game bird seasons and bag limits for falconers will be set in accordance with federal regulations in August.)


No open season on other wild birds or mammals.

Waterfowl and Migratory Game Bird seasons to be established in accordance with federal regulations this summer.
« Last post by mudbrook on March 30, 2015, 11:11:51 AM »
New hunters can beat the rush, get a license in time for gobbler season by taking a course this spring.

Those who plan to purchase their first hunting license this year will need to make plans to attend a Hunter-Trapper Education course, and classes are being held at locations across the state, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Springtime is a great time to complete the course.

Because the fall hunting seasons – and the corresponding rush for new hunters to become certified – still are months away, it can be easier to find a class now compared to later in the year.

Plus, those who complete the class now, still will have time to buy a license and hunt in the upcoming spring gobbler season, and will be able to apply for a 2015-16 antlerless deer license before they sell out.

To register for a course in your area, visit and click on the “Learn to Hunt” link, or go to the Game Commission’s website (, and click on “Hunter Education Classes” icon in the center of the homepage.  From here, you can elect to take the basic “Hunter-Trapper Education” course, which is typically a six-hour course held over one or two days.

Persons 16 years of age or older also may elect to take the new fully online Hunter-Trapper Education course, which also takes about six hours to complete. Those who are certified through the online course must pay a $19.50 fee upon completion.

Andy Hueser, a hunter-education specialist with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, said most students continue to prefer the classroom-taught courses. And those who are looking for a course should keep in mind that the courses are added to the schedule regularly throughout the year, so it’s a good idea to check back frequently, particularly if there’s not a course open in your area at the present time, Hueser said.

“Please know, though, that some areas have a limited number of classes, and the dates and times when they are scheduled might not be convenient for you,” Hueser said “Still, our dedicated team of instructors amazingly offers more than 900 classes each year, and the new online option has the potential to conveniently fit into anybody’s schedule.”

More than 41,000 individuals took Hunter-Trapper Education courses throughout the state last year. There is no fee for the basic, classroom-taught course. Pre-registration is required and online registration is available for all courses through the Class Calendar.

Prior to arriving at their class, students are asked to review four chapters of their student manual, which is available online when you register. Participants must attend all instruction before taking a test at the end of the course. Youngsters must be at least 11 years old to receive certification.

Successful completion of a basic Pennsylvania Hunter-Trapper Education class, or another state’s equivalent course, is required by state law to obtain a first-time hunting or furtaker license, regardless of age.

In addition, registrations are being accepted for other educational programs offered by the Game Commission, including Successful Turkey Hunting, Successful Bowhunting, Successful Furtaking and Cable Restraint Certification.
           The Successful Turkey Hunting course is designed to provide the knowledge and skills needed to hunt safely and confidently in both spring and fall seasons. Veterans will learn methods and techniques that will help them become better hunters. Students will receive a 140-page student guide and a diaphragm turkey call as part of the program. Classes started this spring and continue through the summer and early fall. A $15 fee is being charged to offset costs.

The Successful Bowhunting course is a one-day voluntary training program for those seeking to expand their skills and knowledge of bowhunting. Although Pennsylvania doesn’t require archers to complete a bowhunting education course before they purchase an archery license, certification for this course is required to bowhunt in some other states. There is a $20 course fee, which covers the cost of the online study course required before attending the class.

            Successful Furtaking is a one-day training program that provides extensive hands-on training to new and experienced furtakers. The course promotes Best Management Practices and is designed for any person seeking to learn more about furtaking and to improve his or her skills and success. The course includes the cable-restraint certification that is required to participate in Pennsylvania’s cable-restraint season for foxes and coyotes. This course also fulfills the requirement that all first-time furtaker license buyers pass either a basic trapper education course or basic Pennsylvania HTE course. A $15 course fee is charged.

The Cable Restraint Certification course is required for those trappers seeking to participate in Pennsylvania’s annual trapping season in which cable restraints are used to capture coyotes and foxes. The course fee is $15, and students will get to keep various education materials and one legal cable restraint provided as part of the course.

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« Last post by mudbrook on March 30, 2015, 11:10:40 AM »

Viewership climbs toward 1 million with months of adventure awaiting.

With more than a million viewers worldwide, and the news broadcasted widely to local and national audiences, you might already be well aware the spotlight on Pennsylvania’s most well-known bald eagle nest has turned to two new stars.

Those keeping their “eagle eyes” on the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s bald eagle cam spotted new chicks in the nest soon after daybreak on consecutive mornings Tuesday and Wednesday. For wildlife lovers everywhere, it was reason to celebrate; both eggs that had been incubated since mid-February in the nest near Codorus State Park in Hanover successfully hatched.

But for the growing number of eagle-cam viewers, there’s more good news.

Things are just getting started.

As long as the nestlings remain healthy, there will be increasing activity at the nest in the coming weeks and months. Things will start off slowly, with an adult at the nest almost all the time brooding the chicks to keep them warm and safe. But like most newborns, they’ll eat a lot, too.

The young birds will develop feathers in three to four weeks, will be able to walk around the nest in six to seven weeks, and in about three months, they’ll be ready for their first flights.

Their growth is rapid and, if all goes well, is sure to captivate what already has been an enormous audience.

The chicks’ hatching created a surge in viewers that briefly strained the capacity of servers, as nearly 129,000 devices connected to the stream Tuesday, many of them joining as word spread the first chick had hatched. But capacity was added, and on Wednesday even more devices – 155,000 – were used to access the stream without issues.

For the new nestlings, of course, the future is a great unknown, and that’s one of the things that’s likely to keep viewers coming back for more. Viewers of the eagle cam should understand, though, the live stream gives them the opportunity to view wildlife in its natural setting in real time, and just about anything could happen. The Game Commission does not plan to intervene if the birds become distressed, or appear to be in danger.

Often the best intentions to help wildlife end up doing more harm than good, and the best solution is to let wildlife remain a part of nature.

Tim Sears, the founder of HDOnTap (, which provided the camera and streaming services for the eagle cam project, said the company is proud to partner in an effort that’s brought joy to so many.

“Along with the selfless care of the new little eaglets from some dedicated parents, it’s amazing to watch the demand and popularity of the live stream grow,” Sears said. “The warm comments from viewers and how the live stream has inspired all ages to learn more about eagles and conservation puts a big smile on everyone’s face here at HDOnTap!"

With months remaining to go, this year’s eagle cam already has done much to educate the public about bald eagles, said Lori Neely Mitchell, who heads up the eagle cam project for the Game Commission.

For instance, on March 6 – the day after scenes of a snow-covered adult eagle stubbornly keeping two eggs warm and dry drew national attention – more than 3,500 people viewed the Game Commission’s educational film on eagles, which, like the eagle cam, also is available at the agency’s website. And about 900 people a day have been watching the film since then.

“We certainly share in all of the excitement that has gone along with these two chicks hatching,” Neely Mitchell said. “But at the same time, we’re excited, too, to lead a project that has helped to educate so many people about bald eagles, and about nature, in general.”

Game Commission endangered bird biologist Patti Barber pointed out that, without people, bald-eagle populations never could have rebounded to such amazing levels. In 1983, when the Game Commission launched what would become a seven-year program to restore bald eagles to the state, Pennsylvania had only three known bald-eagle nests – all of them located in Crawford County in the northwestern corner of the state.

At present, Barber said, the number of bald-eagle nests spread throughout the commonwealth might be approaching 300.

And it’s people who paved the way for that comeback, by passing laws to ensure clean water, a healthy environment and protections for eagles and other wildlife.

“Knowing that history shows the importance of engaging people’s natural interest in eagles, ensuring they’ll continue to thrive in Pennsylvania and elsewhere,” Barber said.

The Game Commission’s bald eagle cam can be viewed at the agency’s website, Click on the icon titled “Bald Eagle Live Stream,” then click on the window available on the page that opens.

The eagle cam would not be possible without the efforts of many partners. In addition to HDOnTap, Comcast Business, the Friends of Codorus State Park, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Sunbelt Rentals and Swam Electric Co. joined in the effort.

Dave Dombroski, vice president of Comcast Business in the Keystone Region, said the project already has proved fulfilling.

“We’ve all been captivated and heartened over the past few days by the amazing images of the newly-hatched eaglets and the dedicated care they are receiving from mom and dad,” Dombroski said. “Knowing how quickly these eaglets will grow, we’re sure our sense of wonder will do the same as we get to watch them mature.”



Nest etiquette


While viewers always are welcome online, those making trips to view bald-eagle nests in person are reminded to keep their distance.

Different pairs of eagles have different levels of tolerance for human activity near nests. Nests built in spots with a lot of surrounding bustle, often offer opportunities to view from a distance without invading the eagles’ comfort zone. But other nests are more vulnerable to disturbance.

Federal safeguards exist to protect nesting eagles, and keep people at a distance.

Signs are posted around many known nest sites, but the guidelines apply regardless of whether signs are posted.

Approaching an eagle nest too closely could frighten off the adults and cause them to abandon the nest or prevent them from keeping eggs or chicks at the proper temperature. Frightened eaglets might also jump from the safety of a nest, then have no way to return.

More tips on nest-viewing etiquette can be found on the bald-eagle page of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s website,

« Last post by mudbrook on March 16, 2015, 09:36:24 PM »
Survey asks hunters how weather and moonlight impact deer movements; research to test beliefs.
The moon is nearly full, will deer be moving only at night?
Is the cold front that’s coming through the reason deer are out feeding?
In answering questions like these, deer hunters often rely on common wisdom. But are such truisms really true?
Well, researchers with the Pennsylvania Game Commission and in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences are going to find out.
But first, they are going to ask the public how they think deer respond to changes in weather and moonlight – and then test these ideas with data from movements of radio-collared deer.
“There are a lot of widely-held beliefs about what causes deer to move, how far, and when they move,” said Duane Diefenbach, adjunct professor of wildlife ecology and leader of the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Penn State. “In our current research project, we are collecting hundreds of thousands of locations from GPS-collared white-tailed deer. We thought it would be fun to see what people think about how deer move and see if that’s actually true.”
Diefenbach doesn’t think anyone has studied the validity of these common beliefs about how deer respond to weather and moonlight. “This is a great opportunity to find out.” he added. “I’m certainly curious.”
The Deer-Forest Study is a collaborative research project studying how deer, soils and vegetation interact to affect Pennsylvania forests. The Game Commission is partnering with Penn State and the state Bureau of Forestry in the efforts
The Deer-Forest Blog, where researchers share their findings with the public, is online at For the next several weeks anyone can answer a few questions posted there about how they think deer respond to different weather conditions, such as cold fronts, rain and wind, and how deer movements change with the moon’s phases.
“We hear hunters say that deer become nocturnal following the early muzzleloader and rifle season in October,” said Christopher Rosenberry, who supervises the Game Commission’s Deer and Elk Section. “We now have access to technology to see if that is actually true.”
Both adult male and female deer have been captured and fitted with GPS collars that transmit the deer’s coordinates via satellite every three hours during October. Researchers are going to first investigate deer movements during this month because it is the archery and early muzzleloader and rifle hunting seasons, and it’s before most of the breeding occurs.
“The last week of October is when the rut begins in Pennsylvania,” noted Bret Wallingford, deer biologist with the Game Commission. However, compared to November, most deer still exhibit normal movements and likely are more influenced by weather conditions than breeding urges.”
Anyone interested in taking the brief online survey can go to, where the link will be prominently displayed.
After the survey is closed, the responses will be summarized and shared on the blog.
Two undergraduate students in the College of Agricultural Sciences, Kate Williams, a Wildlife and Fisheries Science major, and Leah Giralico, a Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences major, will be analyzing the data to see how deer actually respond to weather and other factors. In the research, they will analyze more than 13,000 deer locations for October 2013 and October 2014.
PA Fishing / Monster fish caught through the ice in northwest PA
« Last post by mudbrook on March 10, 2015, 10:23:54 PM »
Monster fish caught through the ice in northwest PA
By P.J. REILLY | Staff Writer
A giant musky was caught by two Pittsburgh men fishing through the ice in northwest Pennsylvania earlier this month.
Nicholas Colangelo and Luke Wholey spent about 18 hours fishing through the ice on Pymatuning Reservoir in Crawford County, when Colangelo hauled in a 53-inch musky, according to various media reports.
Colangelo had the fish on the line for 30 minutes before he managed to lift it through a 10-inch hole in the ice.
A fish that size is likely over 30 years old, and so, after snapping a few photos, Colangelo and Wholey slid the leviathan back through the ice, and set it free.

A quick look at Colangelo's Facebook page shows the catch was no fluke.
He and Wholey are dedicated musky anglers, as evidenced by the photos of big fish on Colangelo's page.
That's what it takes to catch these peculiarly crafty predators, according to Steve Mellinger of Mount Joy.
Mellinger fishes year-round on the Susquehanna River, exclusively for muskies, and has pulled some impressive beasts out of the flow in Lancaster County, including one that was 46 inches long and weighed 35 pounds.
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