PGC wants to confirm the beginning of rifle deer season in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Game Commission set the hunting seasons for the year, but they want to know more about whether hunters really would rather gun deer season start on Saturday instead of the Monday after Thanksgiving. At their meeting on Saturday, the commissioners decided that this year’s gun deer season would start on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

The PGC moved the start of rifle deer season from Monday to the Saturday after Thanksgiving in 2019 so that shooters, even those in college, would have more chances to hunt. The state lawmakers also agreed to let people hunt on three Sundays. On the first weekend of gun season, one of those is used.

About 60 years ago, the Monday after Thanksgiving was the first day of gun deer season. That changed in 2019. The board approved the hunting seasons on Saturday morning, but it said it knows there is still debate about which starting day is best for most hunters.

The board said it thinks the Saturday opener works better for most hunters and is better for the future of hunting. They said this based on facts like license sales and a scientific poll of hunters.

President commissioner Scott Foradora, who represents Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Jefferson, McKean, and Potter counties, stated that the board wants more information about the effects of the Saturday opener. They are particularly interested in understanding the opinions of hunters who would prefer to have the opener on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

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Foradora instructed the staff of the Game Commission to collaborate with the Legislature on the issue. They will determine the day that most hunters genuinely support. Here is the statement:

The Board has decided to start the firearms deer season on a Saturday with today’s vote. We believe that starting the hunting season on a Saturday gives hunters the best chance to participate and helps to secure the future of the sport that we are responsible for safeguarding.

“However, we understand that some people have a different opinion and would prefer to have the event start on a Monday.” We understand that many of you feel strongly about this issue. We might not agree, but we have listened to what you have said.

“The ongoing debate about whether to have the hunting season start on a Saturday or Monday has led to a lot of disagreement among hunters.” It has caused us to break apart and separate, when we should be coming together.

Hunting Season Modifications for 2024-25

A new hunting season will take place in certain areas of southcentral Pennsylvania from January 2 to January 20. The goal is to decrease the number of deer in these areas where Chronic Wasting Disease is common. This hunting season will specifically target antlerless deer. You can hunt a deer without antlers if you have the necessary license or permit. Some other changes for this year’s hunting season include:

  • The October muzzleloader season for black bears will be shortened to three days. This is being done to reduce the number of female bears being hunted and help stabilize the bear population.
  • Hunters of all ages who have been mentored will be able to participate in the Junior Hunt, which takes place in early October and focuses on pheasant hunting.
  • The fall season for wild turkey will be longer in 11 WMUs (Wildlife Management Units). Additionally, WMU 5A, which was previously not open for fall hunting, will now have a three-day season. The length of the hunting season will be shorter in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 3D and 4C.
  • Bobcat hunting and trapping will be allowed in WMU 2D for furbearers. The fisher trapping season will be extended by one week in all areas where fisher hunting is allowed. This will allow fishing and trapping of bobcats to happen at the same time.
  • If pheasant hunting is allowed again in the Central Susquehanna Wild Pheasant Recovery Area (WPRA), it will be open to all hunters. The dates for the season and the limits on how many fish you can catch will be decided later this year. This decision will be based on the data collected by the WPRA.

The Game Commission has announced that for the 2024-25 season, there will be 1,186,000 licenses available for hunting antlerless deer across the entire state. This is an increase from the 1,095,000 licenses that were available for the previous season (2023-24).

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