HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits for the 2019-20 license year.
Modifications adopted for the 2019-20 seasons include:
— Moving the opening day of the firearms deer season to the Saturday following Thanksgiving, creating an 13-day season that includes three Saturdays.
— Shortening to two days the late November turkey seasons to accommodate a Saturday firearms deer opener.
— Expanding the mid-October muzzleloader and special firearms deer seasons to include bears statewide.
— Increasing to two weeks the length of the statewide archery bear season and shifting it to the two weeks following the muzzleloader and special firearms bear seasons.
— Expanding four-day extended bear seasons to seven days in most wildlife management units (WMUs) where they are held.
— Expanding the late archery and flintlock deer seasons by more than a week, to end on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.
— Establishing a September archery season and a January antlerless season for elk hunters.
— Expanding bobcat hunting and trapping seasons to WMU 4B; extending fisher trapping opportunity to WMU 4A.
— Extending the fisher trapping season by three days to end Jan. 5.
— Increasing the season limit on beavers from 20 to 40 in WMUs 2A and 2B.
— Reducing the length of the porcupine season by about 10 weeks statewide.
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 903,000 antlerless deer licenses statewide, which is up from the 838,000 licenses allocated for 2018-19. Allocations by Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) in this region are as follows, with the allocation from the previous license year appearing in parentheses: WMU 2D – 66,000 (63,000); WMU 2E – 32,000 (27,000); WMU 2F – 31,000 (23,000); WMU 2G – 26,000 (30,000); WMU 2H – 6,000 (6,000).
Hunting licenses for 2019-20 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 2019-20 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, to be given free to all license buyers.
The board also voted to issue 142 elk licenses (32 antlered, 110 antlerless) for 2019-20, but two additional elk seasons and lottery drawings for licenses have been added. For the one-week general season to run Nov. 4-9, 27 antlered and 71 antlerless tags have been allocated. An early archery season open only in select Elk Hunt Zones will run from Sept. 14-28, with five antlered and 10 antlerless licenses available. And there are 29 licenses available for a late antlerless-only elk season to run from Jan. 4-11.
All licenses will be awarded by lottery, and hunters must apply separately for all seasons they wish to be eligible to hunt. Each application costs $11.90, meaning hunter can enter all three drawings for $35.70. Individuals can be drawn for a maximum of one elk license per license year.
Here is a more-detailed look at the 2019-20 seasons and bag limits.
SPLIT FIREARMS DEER SEASONS APPROVED — The Board of Game Commissioners adopted a slate of deer seasons for 2019-20, including a split, six-day antlered deer season (Nov. 30-Dec. 6) and seven-day concurrent season (Dec. 7-14) in 20 Wildlife Management Units. The list includes WMUs 1A, 1B, 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E, 5A and 5B. The package also retains the full-season (Nov. 30-Dec. 14) concurrent, antlered and antlerless deer season in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D.
This season will start on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, rather than on Monday.
Hunters with Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) antlerless deer permits may use the permits on the lands for which they were issued during any established deer season, and would continue to be allowed to harvest antlerless deer from Nov. 30-Dec. 6 in 1A, 1B, 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E, 5A and 5B. Fees for DMAP permits are $10.90 for residents and $35.90 for nonresidents.
DMAP permits also may be transferred to Mentored Hunting Program participants.
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 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.
Once again this year, the commissioners gave approval to concurrent hunting of antlered and antlerless deer in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D during most seasons, with the first segment of the archery season to run from Sept. 21 to Nov. 29 in those WMUs.
FALL TURKEY SEASON CHANGES ADOPTED — The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to fall turkey seasons for 2019 and spring turkey dates for 2020.
All recommendations on fall turkey season length are made in accordance with guidelines in the Game Commission’s Wild Turkey Management Plan.
The fall season in WMUs 1A, 2A, 4A and 4B is one week (Nov. 2-Nov. 9), plus a two-day Thanksgiving season (Nov. 28 and 29).
In WMU 1B, the season remains one week (Nov. 2-9), with no Thanksgiving season.
In WMU 2B (shotgun and bow only), the season runs from Nov.2-22 and Nov. 28 and 29.
In WMU 2C, the season is Nov. 2-22 and Nov. 28 and 29.
In WMUs 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4C, 4D and 4E, the season is Nov. 2-16 and Nov. 28 and 29.
In WMU 5A, the season is from Nov. 7-9.
In WMU 5B, the season is from Nov. 5-7.
And in WMUs 5C and 5D, the season would remain closed for the fall seasons.
For the 2020 spring gobbler season, which is to run from May 2-30, the board continued with legal hunting hours to reflect the following: from May 2-May 16, legal shooting hours will be one-half hour before sunrise until noon; and from May 18-30, hunters may hunt all day, from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.
The one-day Spring Gobbler Youth Hunt will be held on April 25, 2020, and run from one-half hour before sunrise until noon. All junior license holders and Mentored Youth Hunting Program permit holders can participate in this special half-day hunt, as well as the other spring season dates.
AND BAG LIMITS
SQUIRRELS, Red, Gray, Black and Fox (Combined): Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license, and mentored youth – Oct. 5-19 (6 daily, 18 in possession limit after first day).
SQUIRRELS, Red, Gray, Black and Fox (Combined): Oct. 19-Nov. 29; Dec. 16-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 29 (6 daily, 18 possession).
RUFFED GROUSE: Oct. 19–Nov. 29 and Dec. 16-24 (2 daily, 6 possession).
RABBIT (Cottontail) Special season for eligible junior hunters, with or without required license: Oct. 5-Oct. 19 (4 daily, 12 possession).
RABBIT (Cottontail): Oct. 19-Nov. 29, Dec. 16-24 and Dec. 26-Feb. 29 (4 daily, 12 possession).
WOODCHUCKS (GROUNDHOGS): No closed season, except on Sundays and during the regular firearms deer seasons. No limit.
WILD TURKEY (Male or Female): WMU 1B – Nov. 2-Nov. 9; WMU 2B (Shotgun and bow and arrow) – Nov. 2-22 and Nov. 28-29; WMUs 1A, 2A, 4A and 4B, – Nov. 2-Nov. 9 and Nov. 28 and 29; WMUs 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4C, 4D and 4E– Nov.2-16 and Nov. 28 and 29; WMU 2C – Nov. 2-Nov. 22 and Nov. 28 and 29; WMU 5A – Nov. 7-9; WMU 5B – Nov. 5-7; WMUs 5C and 5D – CLOSED TO FALL TURKEY HUNTING.
SPRING TURKEY (Bearded bird only): Special season for eligible junior hunters, with required license, and mentored youth – April 25, 2020. Only 1 spring gobbler may be taken during this hunt.
SPRING TURKEY (Bearded bird only): May 2-30, 2020. Daily limit 1, season limit 2. (Second spring gobbler may be only taken by persons who possess a valid special wild turkey license.) From May 2-16, legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until noon; from May 18-30, legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.
BLACK BEAR (Statewide): Nov. 23-27. Only 1 bear may be taken during the license year.