Statewide Archery Season Begins Today

Pennsylvania’s archery deer season begins Saturday, October 4, and its return is prompting the Pennsylvania Game Commission to issue some helpful reminders.

Archers can hunt for antlered or antlerless deer from October 4 to November 15, and during the late archery deer season, which runs from December 26 to January 10.

This is a statewide season, however, as announced previously, all hunting and trapping seasons, including the statewide archery season, have been temporarily closed within seven townships in Pike and Monroe counties. Details of the closure are available in Oct. 1 news release (Release #85-14) available at the Game Commission’s website.

At the time of the statewide opener, archery hunters in three urbanized areas of the state will have had a two-week head start to their seasons. Again this year, an early season for antlerless deer was implemented in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D. That season kicked off on Sept. 20.

Bowhunters in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D, also may take antlered and antlerless deer during an extended late archery season, which runs from Jan. 12 to Jan. 24.

Archery hunters may use a long, recurve or compound bow, or a crossbow. Bows must have a draw weight of at least 35 pounds; crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of at least 125 pounds.

The Game Commission encourages hunters to spend as much time as possible afield this fall prior to and during the hunting seasons to pattern deer movements and identify areas where fall foods are abundant.

“Scouting during the preseason does much to improve early season success,” Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough said. “But even after the season begins, observations made while hunting on a given day often increase chances of future success. Hunt as often as you can, and have a great time doing it.”

Those participating in the archery seasons are urged to take only responsible shots at deer to ensure a quick, clean kill. For most, that’s a shot of 20 yards or less at a deer that is broadside or quartering away. Archery and crossbow hunters should shoot only at deer that are within their maximum effective shooting range – the farthest distance from which a hunter can consistently place arrows or bolts into a pie pan-sized target.

Hunters may use illuminated nocks for arrows and bolts; they aid in tracking or locating the arrow or bolt after being launched. However, transmitter-tracking arrows still are illegal.

Tree stands and climbing devices that cause damage to trees are unlawful to use or occupy unless the user has written permission from the landowner. Tree stands – or tree steps – penetrating a tree’s cambium layer cause damage, and it is unlawful to build or occupy tree stands screwed or nailed to trees on state game lands, state forests or state parks.

Hunters are reminded that Game Commission regulations limit the placement of portable hunting tree stands and blinds on state game lands from two weeks before the opening of the first big game season – which is the archery deer season – to two weeks after the close of the last big game season – which is the late archery deer season – within each respective Wildlife Management Unit, excluding the spring gobbler season. Stands must be removed from state game lands two weeks after the late archery deer season.

Safety tips for bowhunters include:

· Make sure someone knows where you’re hunting and when you expect to return home. Leave a note or topographic map with your family or a friend. Pack a cellular telephone for emergencies.

· Always use a fall-restraint device – preferably a full-body harness – when hunting from a tree stand. Wear the device from the moment you leave the ground until you return. Don’t climb dead, wet or icy trees. Stay on the ground on blustery days. Keep yourself in good physical condition. Fatigue can impact judgment, coordination and reaction time, as well as accuracy.

· Always carry a whistle to signal passersby in the event you become immobile. A compass and matches or lighter and tinder also are essential survival gear items to have along. An extra flashlight bulb also can be helpful.

· Use a hoist rope to lift your bow and backpack to your tree stand. Trying to climb with either will place you at unnecessary risk.

· Don’t sleep in a tree stand! If you can’t stay awake, return to the ground.

· Always carry broadhead-tipped arrows in a protective quiver.

· If you use a mechanical release, always keep your index finger away from the trigger when drawing.

· Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for all equipment and check your equipment before each use.

· Practice climbing with your tree stand before dawn on the opening day of the season. Consider placing non-slip material on the deck of your tree stand if it’s not already there.

· Never walk with a nocked, broadhead-tipped arrow or bolt.

· Cocked crossbows should always be pointed in a safe direction.

Hunting in Disease Management Areas

Archers hunting and harvesting deer within any of the state’s three Disease Management Areas (DMAs) must comply with special rules aimed at slowing the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Pennsylvania.

High-risk deer parts – essentially the head and backbone/spinal cord – may not be transported outside the DMA.

Harvested deer can be taken to a cooperating taxidermist or deer processor associated within a DMA, and the processed meat and/or finished taxidermy mounts may be removed from the DMA when ready.

Successful hunters who intend to do their own processing and who need to transport deer meat or other low-risk parts outside a DMA may stop by one of the many high-risk parts disposal sites established within the DMAs.

A list of those sites and their exact addresses or GPS coordinates are available on the CWD information page at the Game Commission’s website, Lists of cooperating processors and taxidermists also are available on that page.

Successful hunters who live in a DMA also may use the high-risk parts disposal sites, but those hunters can also dispose of high-risk parts by bagging them with household trash and sending them for disposal.

Regardless the method of disposal, hunters are asked to do their part to make sure high-risk parts end up in a landfill and away from free-ranging deer. Because CWD can be passed from deer to deer through direct as well as indirect contact, and because the prion that causes CWD can live in the soil – perhaps forever – hunters should understand that dumping deer carcasses on the landscape only increases the risk of spreading CWD.

The state’s three DMAs are the result of deer in those areas testing positive for CWD, which is fatal to deer and elk, but is not known to be transmitted to humans.

DMA 2, which encompasses about 1,600 square miles in Bedford, Blair, Huntingdon Cambria and Fulton counties, is the only DMA in which CWD has been detected in free-ranging deer in Pennsylvania.

DMA 1, which encompasses 600 square miles in York and Adams counties; and DMA 3, which totals about 350 square miles in Jefferson and Clearfield counties, each were established after CWD was detected in captive deer. Maps detailing the perimeters of the DMAs also are available at the Game Commission’s website.

Hunters within DMA 2 are reminded the DMA has been expanded this year. Also, DMA 2 Antlerless Deer Permits remain available and can be purchased through The Outdoor Shop on the Game Commission’s website. The permits can be used only within DMA 2 and cost $6.70 each.

More information on CWD is available at the Game Commission’s website at

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