The Pennsylvania Game Commission makes recommendations for a successful deer harvest | News, Sports, Jobs

According to a press release from the State Wildlife Commission, hunters in Pennsylvania are taking more deer per square mile in the long run than their counterparts in most of the country.

According to the National Deer Association and Game Commission press release, buck harvest averaged 3.2 per square mile over the decade, the same as last year.

“Of course, the buck harvest per square mile varies between individual wildlife management units, with some producing more than others,” it said in the press release. “WMU 2D, for example, has averaged $4.9 per mile per square kilometer over the past three seasons. That was great in Pennsylvania.”

Pennsylvania’s antlerless deer harvest, meanwhile, also ranks among the best in the United States by square mile

“Success in tomboy starts with exploring and knowing the land,” said David Stainbrook, department head for deer and elk management at the Game Commission, according to the press release. “But patience and time are also important. Perseverance is important as an extra day of hunting can mean the difference between a successful season and an unsuccessful one.”

“Pennsylvania’s firearm hunting season draws more than 600,000 hunters to Penn’s Woods each year, and it’s not hard to see why.” said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans, according to the press release. “A productive stag herd that includes a high proportion of mature bucks spread across the Commonwealth thanks to antler point restrictions, coupled with a season as user-friendly as any we have offered, sets the stage for an exciting time. I can barely wait for it.”

field conditions

The Game Commission recommends hunting where the food is “Preferred by wild animals are the most numerous and you could only fill in one label.” it said in the press release.

Hard fattening – especially acorns – is very sporadic this year. Paul Weiss, chief of the Game Commission’s forest division, said several regions in the state are reporting poor acorn harvests this fall, reflecting back-to-back years of heavy spongy moth defoliation coupled with drought conditions in 2022.

There are still niches of moderate red oak acorn production, Weiss said, particularly on state game lands that have been sprayed to control spongy moths in the past two years. Because red oak acorns take two years to mature, stands that were sprayed last year are now producing acorns even if they were damaged the previous spring. Harvests of white and chestnut acorns have also declined year-on-year in areas unaffected by sponge moths. Hunters will have to do a little searching to find the locations where they are most common, the press release said.

Hickory nuts, the Game Commission says, have been fairly consistent this year. Weiss said there are fairly good crab apple, hawthorn and grape crops in most places, although not in the same abundance as 2021.

In all cases, deer generally make a mess wherever they eat, so it shouldn’t be difficult to determine if they’re using an area. Use the prevailing wind to your advantage when setting up a hunting stand. It should blow from where you expect deer to your location. Finally, dress appropriately for the weather and sit tight.


Hunters are allowed to harvest one sacred deer with a valid general hunting license, which costs $20.97 for adult residents and $101.97 for adult foreigners.

To capture an antlered deer, a hunter must hold either a valid antlered deer license or a valid Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permit, according to the press release. A supervised hunter under the age of 7 cannot apply for their own antlerless license or DMAP permit, but may harvest an antlerless stag if an antlerless license or DMAP permit is conferred upon them by a mentor at the time of harvest.

Antlerless deer licenses may be used anywhere within the Wildlife Management Unit for which they were issued.

A DMAP permit can only be used on the specific property for which it was issued.

Some DMAP permits may still be available on private and public lots statewide. Visit the Game Commission website to learn more about where to get them.

Supervised hunting permits are available to hunters of all ages. Supervised hunters aged 7 years and older will receive a deer antler hunting tag with their permit. Those under the age of 7 must receive Deer Harvest Tokens from their Mentors. A mentor may grant an antler crop mark and antlerless license and/or DMAP permit to a supervised hunter under the age of 7.

Supervised hunters as young as 7 can apply for an antlerless deer license, the press release said. You can also apply for a DMAP permit, with the same regulations as for adults.

Fees for the supervised hunting permit are $2.97 for residents and foreigners under the age of 12; $6.97 for residents 12 to 16; $41.97 for foreign nationals between the ages of 12 and 16; $20.97 for residents 17 and older; and $101.97 for nonresidents 17 years and older.

Hunters ages 12 and older who are certified through the Game Commission’s Hunter-Trapper Education program qualify to purchase general hunting licenses, which offer more privileges. Certified hunters ages 12-16 can purchase junior licenses, the cheapest of which are $6.97 for residents and $41.97 for non-residents.

Senior Lifetime License holders are reminded that they must purchase a new Stag Antler Harvest Stamp each year, free of charge, in order to participate in the Season.

General hunting licenses can be purchased online, but as the season approaches, hunters may find it better to purchase licenses in person, the press release said. Hunters can carry a digital version of their general license but still need their paper crop tokens. Deer licenses purchased online are sent by post which means these harvest labels may not arrive on time if purchased too close to the start of the season.

Hunters are reminded that field possession of expired licenses or marks or the licenses or marks of another hunter is unlawful.

Seasonal regulations for deer

Rules for the number of spots a legal buck must have on an antler vary by wildlife management entity, according to the press release. For a full breakdown of antler restrictions, WMU limits, and other regulations, see the 2022-23 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, which is provided to hunters when they purchase their licenses and is also available online at the Game Commission’s website at www.pgc.

Deer hunters anywhere in the state are required to wear at least 250 square inches of fluorescent orange material on their head, chest and back together that is visible from 360 degrees at all times during firearm deer season. An orange hat and vest fulfills the mandate.

Non-hunters who might be out during deer season and other hunting seasons should also wear orange. On state wildlife areas between November 15 and December 15, non-hunters are required by law to meet the 250 square inch fluorescent orange requirement.

Hunters taking down a deer must place a valid tag on the ear — not antlers — before moving the deer, the press release said. The label must be filled in with a ballpoint pen and scored or cut out with the correct harvest date. Hunters must report the catch to the Hunting Commission within 10 days. Harvests can be reported online at, by phone at 1-800-838-4431, or by mail in the prepaid cards included with the summary.

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