Hunters across Pennsylvania will have 23,000 more antlerless deer permits this fall as compared to last year’s allocation.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission approved 948,000 of antlerless (doe) tags Saturday during the agency’s quarterly meeting in Harrisburg. Last year’s total was 925,000 permits.
Antlerless deer licenses are divided among Wildlife Management Units across the state.
WMU 1A in the northwestern part of Pennsylvania, including Mercer County, will have 3,000 more licenses at 43,000. WMU 1B that includes Erie, and parts of Warren and Crawford counties increased by 2,000 to 34,000, and WMU 2F, in Warren, Forest and McKean counties, gains 5,000 doe tags to 37,000. This WMU had its first case of Chronic Wasting Disease discovered in 2021.
WMU 2G, a large area that includes parts of Clinton, Lycoming Tioga, Potter, Cameron, Clearfield and Center counties, has an increase of 2,000 licenses to 25,000. WMU 3B gains 3,000 tags to 33,000 in Sullivan and parts of Bradford, Wyoming, Luzerne and Lycoming counties.
Deer hunting recapPennsylvania hunters take fewer deer in 2021 than 2020
WMU 3D in the Pike and Monroe county area will have 5,000 additional tags for a total of 41,000, and 4C in the Schuylkill and Carbon county area is getting 2,000 additional licenses for a total of 31,000.
The remaining allocations by WMU are as follows, with the allocation from the previous license year appearing in parentheses:
WMU 2A – 39,000 (39,000);
WMU 2B – 49,000 (49,000);
WMU 2C – 67,000 (67,000);
WMU 2D – 74,000 (74,000);
WMU 2E – 42,000 (42,000);
WMU 2H – 6,000 (9,000);
WMU 3A – 19,000 (19,000);
WMU 3C –37,000 (33,000);
WMU 4A – 50,000 (50,000);
WMU 4B – 34,000 (34,000);
WMU 4D – 55,000 (55,000);
WMU 4E – 42,000 (42,000);
WMU 5A – 31,000 (31,000);
WMU 5B – 60,000 (60,000);
WMU 5C – 70,000 (70,000);
WMU 5D – 29,000 (29,000).
In the past hunting year, about 25% of the anterless licenses were filled by successful hunters who took 231,490 animals. The fall and winter harvest also included 145,320 bucks. The agency’s allocations are based on previous harvest reports and management information about the future of the herd, habitat and diseases like Chronic Wasting Disease.
In the 2021-22 hunting season, the Game Commission tested 11,000 deer and discovered 240 positive cases for Chronic Wasting Disease, a fatal neurological disease. In the 2020-21 time period, the agency tested 12,769 deer and found 253 CWD positive cases. The hotspot for CWD continues to be Bedford County, which had more than half of the CWD cases at 127, and its neighboring county, Fulton, with 57.
Hunting licenses for the upcoming year 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 2022-23 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, which is provided for free to all license buyers.
Trophies found in Penns WoodsHunters find monster-size antlers during rifle deer season
Elk hunting update
For those seeking larger animals, the board approved 178 elk licenses (60 antlered, 118 antlerless) across three 2022-23 seasons. That number is down nine from the 2021-22 numbers. For the one-week general season to run Oct. Nov. 31 5, 31 antlered and 70 antlerless tags have been allocated. In the archery season open only in select Elk Hunt Zones, to run from Sept. 10-24, 14 antlered and 15 antlerless licenses are available. And there are 15 antlered and 33 antlerless licenses available for the Dec. Jan. 31 7 late season.
The number of archery tags is the same for 2022, but the general rifle elk season that starts at the end of October, is down to 101 from 109 in 2021. The late season total allocation is down by one elk to 48, but the number of bull tags for late season changed from 10 to 15.
“The shift in bulls is just to spread them as evenly as possible into each season. We try to put no more than 3 bulls per season per zone to limit over crowding as much as possible,” Jeremy Banfield, the agency’s elk biologist, said Monday morning through an email.
Of the 187 licenses awarded for the past year, hunters bagged 144 elk, including 53 bulls, 91 cows in north central Pennsylvania.
Elk licenses are awarded by a lottery system, 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.
Successful hunters talk about their elkPennsylvania elk check station busy with successful hunters
Road-killed deer policy
In another matter involving deer, the Game Commission’s board gave preliminary approval to a measure that allows the public to call a nuisance wildlife control operator to remove a dead deer that’s been lying along a roadway longer than they desire.
The state Department of Transportation and the Game Commission, which sometimes hires contractors to collect and dispose of deer, share the responsibility of removing the deer carcasses.
However, the Game Commission reports it receives thousands of calls from the public concerning deer carcasses along roadways and on private property that aren’t removed in a timely manner.
What’s been proposedPennsylvania Game Commission is considering another option for removing dead deer
Nuisance wildlife control operators could provide the public with an additional resource for road-killed deer removal. The operators would have the ability to charge the caller for the service.
The measure is scheduled to be discussed at the agency’s July meeting for a final vote.
Brian Whipkey is the outdoors columnist for USA TODAY Network sites in Pennsylvania. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and sign up for our weekly Go Outdoors PA newsletter email on your website’s homepage under your login name. Follow him on social media @whipkeyoutdoors.