HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners gave preliminary approval to hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits for the 2021-22 license year.

Modifications proposed 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 turkey) with seasons encompassing those dates. These expansions of Sunday opportunity are the only changes preliminarily proposed for small game and furbearer seasons.

The closure of the fall turkey season in WMU 5A and reductions in season length for 14 other WMUs due to 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 is proposed to 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 antlerless designation is proposed to be removed from the late elk season to provide the Game Commission the flexibility to issue antlered elk licenses for this season, if and when appropriate. Specific license allocations for all elk seasons will be set in April.

The public may offer comments on all proposed 2021-22 seasons and bag limits, as well as other board actions, between now and the board’s next quarterly meeting, when 2021-22 seasons and bag limits will be finalized, and antlerless deer license allocations will be determined.

The board’s next quarterly meeting is scheduled to be held April 16 and 17 at the Game Commission’s Harrisburg headquarters.

Following are several articles on meeting highlights.

 

STATEWIDE CONCURRENT FIREARMS DEER SEASONS UP FOR APPROVAL

The Board of Game Commissioners preliminarily approved a slate of deer seasons for the 2021-22 license year that would allow concurrent hunting for antlered and antlerless deer statewide through the duration of the firearms deer season.

The season is proposed to open on Saturday, Nov. 27. Deer hunting also would be allowed on Sunday, Nov. 28. This would be the only Sunday during firearms deer season when deer hunting is permitted. The season would close on Saturday, Dec. 11.

The board retained the antler restrictions that have been in place for adult and senior license holders since the 2011-12 seasons. It remains the “three-up” on one side, not counting a brow tine, provision for the western Wildlife Management Units of 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B and 2D, and the three points on one side in all other WMUs. Those exempt from these antler restrictions are mentored youth hunters, junior license holders, disabled hunters with a permit to use a vehicle as a blind and resident active-duty military on leave.

A change to a concurrent season is not intended to increase the antlerless harvest, as the antlerless allocation is the primary tool for managing deer populations. If the proposal for concurrent seasons is approved by the board at the April meeting, the antlerless license allocation will be reduced accordingly to reflect the additional five days of hunting opportunities. The antlerless allocation is based on the estimated number of tags required for hunters to harvest the number of deer necessary to meet the population objectives within a WMU. If the season is extended an additional five days, fewer tags will be required to meet the population objectives than would have been required in a shorter season.

All preliminarily approved seasons and bag limits will be brought back to the April meeting for a final vote.

 

FALL TURKEY SEASON CHANGES MOVE FORWARD

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave preliminary approval to fall turkey seasons for 2021 and spring gobbler dates for 2022.

All recommendations on fall-turkey season length are made in accordance with guidelines in the Game Commission’s Wild Turkey Management Plan. The board also gave preliminary approval to a measure that would eliminate the use of centerfire and rimfire rifles for fall-turkey hunting. That proposal, which could be adopted in April and placed in effect for the 2021-22 license year, is detailed in a separate news release.

Regarding season length, the commissioners today preliminarily approved closing the fall-turkey season in WMU 5A and reducing season length in 14 WMUs, all due to declining turkey populations. If rifle use is eliminated, it is estimated that the fall harvest could decrease up to approximately 20 percent statewide, thereby giving the Game Commission another tool to address declining turkey populations without further reducing season lengths.

With final approval at the board’s next quarterly meeting, the fall season in WMUs 1A, 1B, 4A, 4B, 4D and 4E would be one week (Oct. 30-Nov. 6).

In WMU 2B, the season would run Oct. 30-Nov. 19 and a Thanksgiving season Nov. 24-26.

In WMUs 2A, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D and 4C, the season would be Oct. 30-Nov. 13.

In WMUs 2C, 2D and 2E, the season would be Oct. 30-Nov. 13 and Nov. 24-26.

In WMU 5B, the season would be from Nov. 2-4.

And in WMUs 5A, 5C and 5D, the season would be closed for the fall seasons. WMU 5A has been open to fall turkey hunting in a limited season in previous years.

For the 2022 spring gobbler season, which is proposed to run from April 30-May 31, the board continued with legal hunting hours to reflect the following: from April 30-May 14, legal shooting hours will be one-half hour before sunrise until noon; and from May 16-31, hunters may hunt all day, from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.

The board proposed holding the one-day Spring Gobbler Youth Hunt on April 23, 2022, which will run 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.

 

 

PROPOSED 2021-22 HUNTING SEASONS AND BAG LIMITS

SQUIRRELS, Red, Gray, Black and Fox (Combined): Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license – Sept. 11-25 (6 daily, 18 in possession limit after first day).

SQUIRRELS, Red, Gray, Black and Fox (Combined): Sept. 11-Nov. 13; Sunday, Nov. 14; Nov. 15-20; Sunday, Nov. 21; Nov. 22-26; Dec. 13-24; and Dec. 27-Feb. 28, 2022 (6 daily, 18 possession).

RUFFED GROUSE: Oct. 16-Nov. 13; Sunday, Nov. 14; Nov. 15-20; Sunday, Nov. 21; Nov. 22-26 and Dec. 13-24 (2 daily, 6 possession).

RABBIT (Cottontail) Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license – Oct. 2-Oct. 16 (4 daily, 12 possession).

RABBIT (Cottontail): Oct. 16-Nov. 13; Sunday, Nov. 14; Nov. 15-20; Sunday, Nov. 21; Nov. 22-26; Dec. 13-24 and Dec. 27-Feb. 28, 2022 (4 daily, 12 possession).

PHEASANT: Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license – Oct. 9-16 (2 daily, 6 in possession). Male and female pheasants may be taken in all WMUs. There is no open season for taking pheasants in Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas, except within the Central Susquehanna Wild Pheasant Recovery Area, as authorized by executive order.

PHEASANT: Oct. 23-Nov. 13; Sunday, Nov. 14; Nov. 15-20; Sunday, Nov. 21; Nov. 22-26, Dec. 13-24 and Dec. 27-Feb. 28, 2022 (2 daily, 6 in possession). Male and female pheasants may be taken in all WMUs. There is no open season for taking pheasants in Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas, except within the Central Susquehanna Wild Pheasant Recovery Area, as authorized by executive order.

BOBWHITE QUAIL: Oct. 23-Nov. 13; Sunday, Nov. 14; Nov. 15-20; Sunday, Nov. 21, Nov. 22-26, Dec. 13-24 and Dec. 27-Feb. 28, 2022 (8 daily, 24 possession).

HARES (SNOWSHOE RABBITS) OR VARYING HARES: Dec. 27-Jan. 1, 2022 in all WMUs (1 daily, 3 possession).

WOODCHUCKS (GROUNDHOGS): July 1-Nov. 13; Sunday, Nov. 14; Nov. 15-20; Sunday, Nov. 21; Nov. 22-26 and Dec. 13-June 30, 2022. No limit.

CROWS: July 2-April 10, 2022, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only. No limit.

STARLINGS AND ENGLISH SPARROWS: No closed season, except during the regular firearms deer season. No limit.

WILD TURKEY (Male or Female): WMU 2B Oct. 30Nov. 19 and Nov. 24-26; WMUs 1A, 1B, 4A, 4B, 4D and 4E  Oct. 30-Nov. 6; WMUs 2A, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D and 4C  Oct. 30-Nov. 13; WMUs 2C, 2D and 2E  Oct. 30-Nov. 13 and Nov. 24-26; WMU 5B – Nov. 2-4; WMUs 5A, 5C and 5D – CLOSED TO FALL TURKEY HUNTING.

SPRING GOBBLER (Bearded bird only): Special season for eligible junior hunters, with required license, and mentored hunters 16 and under – April 23, 2022. Only 1 spring gobbler may be taken during this hunt. Hunting hours end at noon.

SPRING GOBBLER (Bearded bird only): April 30-May 31, 2022. Daily limit 1, season limit 2. (Second spring gobbler may be only taken by persons who possess a valid special wild turkey license.) From April 30-May 14, legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until noon; from May 16-31, legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.

BLACK BEAR, ARCHERY (WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D): Sept. 18-Nov. 13; Sunday, Nov. 14; Nov. 15-20; Sunday, Nov. 21 and Nov. 22-26. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR, ARCHERY (WMU 5B): Oct. 2-Nov. 13; Sunday, Nov. 14; and Nov. 15-19. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR, ARCHERY (WMUs 1A, 1B, 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 5A): Oct. 16-Nov. 6.

BLACK BEAR, MUZZLELOADER (Statewide): Oct. 16-23. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR, SPECIAL FIREARMS (Statewide): Oct. 21-23, Junior and Senior License Holders, Disabled Person Permit (to use a vehicle) Holders, and Pennsylvania residents serving on active duty in U.S. Armed Services or in the U.S. Coast Guard only. Also included are persons who have reached or will reach their 65th birthday in the year of the application for a license and hold a valid adult license, or qualify for license and fee exemptions under section 2706. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR (Statewide): Nov. 20; Sunday, Nov. 21; and Nov. 22-23. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR (WMUs 1B, 2C, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 5A): Nov. 29-Dec. 4. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

BLACK BEAR (WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C and 5D): Nov. 29-Dec. 11. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.

ELK, ARCHERY: Sept. 11-25.

ELK (Antlered or Antlerless): Nov. 1-6. Only one elk may be taken during the license year.

ELK, LATE: Jan. 1-8, 2022

DEER, ARCHERY (Antlered and Antlerless) WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D: Sept. 18-Nov. 13; Sunday, Nov. 14; Nov. 15-20, Sunday, Nov. 21; Nov. 22-26 and Dec. 27-Jan. 29, 2022. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license. One antlered deer per hunting license year.

DEER, ARCHERY (Antlered and Antlerless) Statewide: Oct. 2-Nov. 13; Sunday, Nov. 14; Nov. 15-19; and Dec. 27-Jan. 17, 2022. One antlered deer per hunting license year. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER, ANTLERLESS MUZZLELOADER (Statewide): Oct. 16-23. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER, ANTLERLESS SPECIAL FIREARMS (Statewide): Oct. 21-23. Junior and Senior License Holders, Mentored Youth Permit Holders, Disabled Person Permit (to use a vehicle) Holders, and Pennsylvania residents serving on active duty in U.S. Armed Services or in the U.S. Coast Guard only, with required antlerless license. Also included are persons who have reached or will reach their 65th birthday in the year of the application for a license and hold a valid adult license, or qualify for license and fee exemptions under section 2706. One antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER, REGULAR FIREARMS (Antlered and Antlerless) Statewide: Nov. 27; Sunday, Nov. 28; and Nov. 29-Dec. 11. One antlered deer per hunting license year. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER, ANTLERED OR ANTLERLESS FLINTLOCK (Statewide): Dec. 27-Jan. 17, 2022. One antlered deer per hunting license year, or one antlerless deer and an additional antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER, ANTLERED OR ANTLERLESS FLINTLOCK (WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D): Dec. 27-Jan. 29, 2022. One antlered deer per hunting license year, or one antlerless deer and an additional antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER, ANTLERLESS EXTENDED REGULAR FIREARMS: (WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D): Dec. 27-Jan. 29, 2022. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

DEER, ANTLERLESS (Military Bases): Hunting permitted on days established by the U.S. Department of the Army at Letterkenny Army Depot, Franklin County; New Cumberland Army Depot, York County; and Fort Detrick, Raven Rock Site, Adams County. An antlerless deer with each required antlerless license.

 

 

PROPOSED 2021-22 FURBEARER HUNTING SEASONS

COYOTES: No closed season. Unlimited. Outside of any big game season (deer, bear, elk and turkey), coyotes may be taken with a hunting license or a furtaker license, and without wearing orange. During any big game season, coyotes may be taken while lawfully hunting big game or with a furtaker license.

FOXES: Oct. 23-Feb. 19, 2022; Unlimited. Sunday hunting permitted.

RACCOONS: Oct. 23-Nov. 13; Sunday, Nov. 14; Nov. 15-20; Sunday, Nov. 21; Nov. 22-26; and Dec. 13-Feb. 19, 2022.

OPOSSUM, STRIPED SKUNKS and WEASELS: No closed season, except during the firearms deer season. No Sunday hunting with the exceptions of Nov. 14 and Nov. 21. No limits.

BOBCAT (WMUs 2A, 2B, 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E): Jan. 8-Feb. 2, 2022. One bobcat per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.

PORCUPINES: Oct. 9-Nov. 13; Sunday, Nov. 14; Nov. 15-20; Sunday, Nov. 21; and Nov. 22-Jan. 29, 2022. (3 daily, season limit of 10).

 

 

PROPOSED 2021-22 TRAPPING SEASONS

MINKS and MUSKRATS: Nov. 20-Jan. 9, 2022. Unlimited.

COYOTES, FOXES, OPOSSUMS, RACCOONS, STRIPED SKUNKS and WEASELS: Oct. 23-Feb. 20, 2022. No limit.

COYOTES and FOXES, CABLE RESTRAINTS (Statewide): Dec. 26-Feb. 20, 2022. No limit. Participants must pass cable restraint certification course.

BEAVERS (Statewide): Dec. 18-March 31, 2022 (Limits vary depending on WMU).

BOBCATS (WMUs 2A, 2B, 2C, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E): Dec. 18-Jan. 9, 2022. One bobcat per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.

FISHERS (WMUs 1B, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D and 4E): Dec. 18-Jan. 2, 2022. One fisher per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.

RIVER OTTERS (WMUs 1A, 1B, 2F, 3C and 3D): Feb. 12-19, 2022. One river otter per license year. Licensed furtakers may obtain one permit each.

 

 

PROPOSED 2021-22 FALCONRY SEASONS

SQUIRRELS (combined): Sept. 1-March 31, 2022 (6 daily, 18 possession).

BOBWHITE QUAIL Sept. 1-March 31, 2022 (8 daily, 24 possession).

RUFFED GROUSE Sept. 1-March 31, 2022 (2 daily, 6 possession).

COTTONTAIL RABBITS Sept. 1-March 31, 2022 (4 daily, 12 possession).

SNOWSHOE OR VARYING HARES Sept. 1-March 31, 2022 (1 daily, 3 possession).

RINGNECK PHEASANTS (Male or Female combined) Sept. 1-March 31, 2022 (2 daily, 6 possession).

No open season during the regular firearms deer season.

No hunting on Sundays with the exceptions of Nov. 14 and Nov. 21.

No open season on other wild birds or mammals.

 

Waterfowl and Migratory Game Bird seasons to be established in accordance with federal regulations at a later date.