STATEWIDE ARCHERY SEASON BEGINS OCT. 1
Pennsylvania Game Commission wishes bowhunters safe days afield.
Pennsylvania’s archery deer season begins Saturday, Oct. 1, and its return is prompting the Pennsylvania Game Commission to issue some helpful reminders.
Archers statewide can hunt for antlered or antlerless deer from Oct. 1 to Nov. 12, and during the late archery deer season, which runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 14.
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. An early season for antlered and antlerless deer was implemented in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C and 5D, and that season kicked off on Sept. 17 and ends Nov. 26.
Properly licensed bowhunters in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D also may take antlered and antlerless deer during an extended late archery season, which runs from Jan. 16 to Jan. 28.
Archery hunters may use long, recurve or compound bows, or crossbows. Bows must have a draw weight of at least 35 pounds; crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 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.
“Those hunters who, during the preseason, thoroughly scouted the areas they hunt, greatly improve their chances at early season success,” said Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough. “And when the season begins, there’s simply no substitute for getting out there and seeing for yourself what’s happening in the deer woods, and having a great time doing it.”
Bowhunters 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 portable hunting tree stands and blinds are not permitted on state game lands until two weeks before the opening of the archery deer season, and they must be removed no later than two weeks after the close of the flintlock and late archery deer seasons in the WMU being hunted.
Tree stands placed on state game lands also must be conspicuously marked with a durable identification tag that identifies the stand owner. Tags may include the owner’s name and address, the CID number that appears on the owner’s hunting license, or a unique identification number issued by the Game Commission. Identification numbers can be obtained at The Outdoor Shop on the Game Commission’s website.
Safety tips for bowhunters
- 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 cellphone 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 include multiple tissues in the head (brain, tonsils, eyes, and lymph nodes), the backbone/spinal cord, spleen, upper canine teeth (if root structure is present), and any object or article containing visible brain or spinal cord. These tissues are where the CWD prion accumulates to high concentrations and these may not be transported outside the DMA.
Parts that are safe to move include meat, without the backbone; the skull plate with attached antlers, if no visible brain or spinal cord material is present; tanned hide or raw hide with no visible brain or spinal cord material present; the cape, if no visible brain or spinal cord material is present; the upper canine teeth, if no root structure is present; or finished taxidermy mounts.
Harvested deer can be taken to a cooperating taxidermist or deer processor associated with a specific 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, www.pgc.pa.gov. 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 to a regulated landfill.
Regardless the method of disposal, hunters are asked to do their part to make sure high-risk parts end up in a regulated landfill, and off the landscape 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 remain infectious for years in the soil, hunters should understand that dumping deer carcasses or high-risk parts 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 100-percent fatal to deer and elk, but is not known to be transmitted to humans.
DMA 2, which encompasses about 2,800 square miles in Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Clearfield, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon and Somerset 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. To date, surveillance for CWD in free-living deer in these areas has not identified any positives. Maps detailing the perimeters of the DMAs also are available at the Game Commission’s website.
Hunters within DMA 2 are reminded the DMA boundary has expanded again this year.
And hunters everywhere should be aware that the boundaries of Disease Management Areas can and do change due to new cases of CWD. For the most up-to-date information on CWD, including updated DMA maps, visit the Game Commission’s website.