HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners has given final approval to hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits for the 2021-22 license year.
Modifications adopted for the 2021-22 seasons include:
- A statewide, 14-day concurrent antlered and antlerless firearms season, which was proposed to simplify regulations and provide increased opportunity, especially for younger hunters.
- Expanded Sunday hunting opportunity – The hunting Sundays during the archery deer and firearms bear seasons also would be open for other species (except migratory game birds and wild turkeys) that are in season on those dates. These expansions of Sunday opportunity are the only changes adopted for small game and furbearer seasons.
- Moving up the start of the extended bear season to begin on the firearms deer opener and include Sunday, Nov. 28 in the WMUs where the season is open.
- The closure of the fall turkey season in WMU 5A and reductions in season length for 14 other WMUs because of declining population trends. The recommendations are in accordance with Wild Turkey Management Plan guidelines to increase hen survival.
- The extended (post-Christmas) antlerless firearms season that traditionally has been held in certain counties in southeastern and southwestern Pennsylvania will be held in all of WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D, given that antlerless harvests are evenly distributed throughout these WMUs regardless of firearms restrictions.
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 925,000 antlerless deer licenses statewide, which is down from the 932,000 licenses allocated for 2020-21. The move to allow concurrent hunting of antlered and antlerless deer statewide throughout the 14-day regular firearms season decreased the number of antlerless licenses available in many Wildlife Management Units while goals to maintain higher harvests in WMUs affected by chronic wasting disease (CWD) led to increased license allocations there.
Hunting licenses for 2021-22 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 2021-22 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, to be given free to all license buyers.
The board also voted to issue 187 elk licenses (56 antlered, 131 antlerless) across three 2021-22 seasons. For the one-week general season to run Nov. 1-6, 32 antlered and 77 antlerless tags have been allocated.
All elk licenses will be awarded by lottery, and hunters must apply separately for all seasons they wish to be eligible to hunt. Each application costs $11.97, meaning a hunter can enter all three drawings for $35.91. Individuals can be drawn for a maximum of one elk license per license year.
The Board of Game Commissioners adopted a slate of deer seasons for the 2021-22 license year. The regular firearms deer season, which begins Nov. 27, will allow statewide concurrent hunting for antlered and antlerless deer throughout the season’s 14 days. The season includes a day of Sunday hunting on Nov. 28. The season ends Dec. 11.
The fall turkey seasons and spring gobbler dates were set. One change affecting all fall-turkey hunters is a vote by the board to prohibit the use of centerfire and rimfire rifles and handguns in the fall-turkey season. Season lengths also have been adjusted in many WMUs.
For the 2022 spring gobbler season, which will run from April 30-May 31, the board continued with legal hunting hours to reflect the following: from April 30-May 14, one-half hour before sunrise until noon; and from May 16-31, one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.
The one-day Spring Gobbler Youth Hunt will be held on April 23, 2022, from one-half hour before sunrise until noon. All junior license holders and mentored hunters 16 and under can participate in this special half-day hunt, as well as the other spring season dates.