Friday, April 17, 2020

Big Changes for the 2020-2021 Pennsylvania Deer Season

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners met in early April to make decision concerning the upcoming hunting seasons and bag limits.The meeting was the first ever “virtual” meeting. A number of changes were accepted concerning the deer season that are important to be aware of.  I summarized them below.

Deer Season Highlights of Changes
·         Antlerless allocation increased from 903,000 allocated in 2019-20 to 932,000 in 2020-21.  
·         Retained the Saturday rifle deer opener
·         Hunting opportunities on three Sundays
  o   Sunday, Nov. 15 - archery deer hunting
  o   Sunday, Nov. 22 - bear hunting during the bear firearms season
  o   Sunday, Nov. 29 - deer hunting during the firearms deer season
·         Adopted a 14-day concurrent rifle deer season for antlered and antlerless deer in 10 Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) - 2B, 2C, 2D, 2E, 4A, 4B, 4D, 5A, 5C and 5D
  o   3 units (2B, 5C and 5D) were already concurrent seasons – urbanized areas
  o   7 Units (2C, 2D, 2E, 4A, 4B, 4D, 5A) - Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Disease Management Areas (DMAs) - provides hunters an additional five days of antlerless deer season. (Click here for map of the WMUs)
  o   Antlerless allocations in WMUs with concurrent seasons are lower than they would have been if a split-season had been approved
  o   Retained a split-season in the remaining 13 WMUs
·         Extended the statewide archery deer season to end Nov. 20 - giving bowhunters the opportunity to take advantage of peak and post-rut activity
·         The board retained the antler restrictions

DMAP Permits Per Property
·         Hunters are allowed to purchase up to 4 DMAP permits per property (had been limited to purchasing just two DMAP permits per DMAP property in the past)
  o   Exceptions - state forest lands and certain large tracts of private lands

Mentored Youth Program
·         Mentored hunters ages 7 and older now can apply for their own antlerless deer licenses and Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permits

Deer Tagging Requirements
·         Hunters possessing multiple tags may fill them without first tagging a harvested deer - lifting the restriction benefits deer hunters with multiple tags, who no longer are forced to pass up opportunities to harvest additional deer.

Upcoming Issues:
·         Commissioner Kristen Schnepp-Giger asked the agency’s Bureau of Wildlife Management to study the implications of removing antler restrictions in at least some areas where Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been detected in free-ranging deer.
·         Agency’s new CWD Response Plan, a revised draft of which is available for public review and comment until May 7.

For the full list of changes click here.

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