Hunting and Trapping Opportunities For Winter in Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvania Snowshoe HareHARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe reminds hunters and trappers that they still have a mixed bag of seasons from which to choose after the statewide firearms deer season concludes on Saturday, Dec. 13.  They include seasons for deer, snowshoe hare, ruffed grouse, squirrel, cottontail, pheasant, coyote, beaver and other furbearers, crows, doves and waterfowl.

The statewide late archery and flintlock muzzleloader deer seasons run concurrently from Dec. 26 to Jan. 10.  Also, in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 2B, 5C and 5D, bowhunters can participate in additional archery season for antlerless deer from Dec. 15-23.

In addition, all hunters with WMU 2B 5C or 5D antlerless deer licenses can use any legal sporting arm to harvest antlerless deer from Dec. 15 to 23, and from Dec. 26-Jan. 24.

The small game seasons are as follows: squirrel, Dec. 15-23 and Dec. 26 to Feb. 7; ruffed grouse, Dec. 15-23 and Dec. 26 to Jan. 24; rabbit, Dec. 15-23 and Dec. 26 to Feb. 7; and snowshoe hare, Dec. 26-Jan. 1. In addition, pheasants (males and females) will be open from Dec. 15-23 and Dec. 26 to Feb. 7, in WMUs 1A, 1B, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4D, 5C and 5D.

Hunters who participate in any of these seasons must have a general hunting license, which provides Pennsylvania hunting privileges through June 30.  Depending on the deer season hunters are participating in, they also must meet additional licensing and fluorescent orange requirements.

All antlerless deer taken by hunters in the late archery and special regulations area antlerless seasons must be tagged with an unused WMU-specific antlerless deer license harvest tag or a Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) antlerless deer permit harvest tag.

Pennsylvania CoyoteFlintlock muzzleloader season participants may harvest an antlerless deer with either a WMU-specific or DMAP-specific antlerless deer license/permit or general hunting license deer harvest tag. Buck hunting in the late seasons is governed by antler restrictions and limited to only bowhunters and flintlock muzzleloader hunters who possess an unused general hunting license deer harvest tag.

During the flintlock season, only single-barrel long-guns .44 caliber or larger and flintlock handguns .50 caliber or larger with a flintlock ignition system are permitted. The firearm must be an original or reproduction of a gun used prior to 1800.  Peep sights and fiber-optic inserts are permitted, as well as iron, open “V” or notched sights. A flintlock ignition system consists of a hammer containing a naturally-occurring stone which is spring-propelled onto an iron or steel frizzen, which, in turn, creates sparks to ignite the gunpowder.  Flintlock muzzleloader hunters may use “any single projectile” ammunition.

Hunters are reminded that firearms limitations for special regulations counties – Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia – remain in effect for the extended antlerless season in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D.  Those restrictions do not apply to those portions of Beaver, Berks, Butler, Lehigh, Northampton, Washington and Westmoreland counties contained in WMUs 2B and 5C, where firearms deer hunters may choose to use a rifle, shotgun or crossbow.

Hunters using archery or muzzleloader licenses, and hunting with those special sporting arms, are not required to wear fluorescent orange clothing while afield, but are encouraged to do so where the seasons overlap with late season firearms deer hunters. Special regulations area hunters must wear 250 square inches of fluorescent orange clothing, unless they possess an archery or muzzleloader license and are hunting with a bow, flintlock or crossbow.

Pennsylvania PheasantThose hunting in the late seasons also may take coyotes with either a general hunting license or a furtaker license, 24 hours a day, from July 1-June 30, including Sundays, as per specifics listed on page 86 of the 2008-09 Hunting and Trapping Digest.  The bag limit is unlimited, and hunters may use electronic calls and can pursue coyotes without wearing fluorescent orange in most instances.  Also, trappers can take an unlimited number of coyotes until Feb. 22.

Trappers also may use cable restraints for foxes and coyotes from Jan. 1 through Feb. 22.  In order to participate in this season, trappers must have passed a mandatory cable restraint certification program, which was developed and implemented with the assistance of the Pennsylvania Trappers Association.  For information on courses, visit the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) and click on the “Hunter Education” link in the right-hand column and choose the month of interest to find the nearest course.

Furbearer hunting seasons continuing through the winter months, include: red and gray foxes, until Feb. 21, including Sundays; raccoons, until Feb. 21; bobcats, for those with special permits, until Feb. 21; and skunks, opossums and weasels, until June 30 (certain restrictions apply during the spring gobbler season, so please refer to page 86 of the 2007-08 Digest). 

Furbearer trapping seasons include: beavers, Dec. 26-March 31 (bag limits depend on WMU, which is outlined on page 86 of the 2007-08 Digest); minks and muskrats, until Jan. 11; raccoons, skunks, opossums, foxes and weasels, until Feb. 22; and bobcats, for those with special permits, until Feb. 22. 

“Trappers seeking new locations to place sets are encouraged to contact any of the agency’s six region offices for contact information for landowners looking for relief from nuisance beavers,” Roe said.  He also recommended trappers review the various “Field Officer Game Forecasts” available online (www.pgc.state.pa.us).

Crows may be hunted on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until April 5.

Dove hunters also will have late season opportunities when dove season reopens Dec. 26-Jan. 1. Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset, and the daily limit is 15.

Waterfowl hunters have plenty of hunting opportunities to pursue from December into March. Hunters can take Canada geese and white-fronted geese during the following upcoming seasons: Atlantic Population Zone, Dec. 19-Jan. 24; Southern James Bay Canada Goose Hunting Zone, Dec. 15-Jan. 28; and Resident Canada Goose Zone, from Dec. 22-Feb. 28. Statewide snow goose season runs until March 10. 

Ducks, sea ducks, coots and mergansers may be hunted in the Lake Erie Zone until Jan. 3; in the North Zone, until Jan. 9; in the Northwest Zone Dec. 10-Jan. 9; and in the South Zone until Jan. 15. 

For details on waterfowl bag limits in each of the zones, please consult the Pennsylvania 2008-09 Guide to Migratory Game Bird Hunting, which is available on the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) in the Quick Clicks Box under “Waterfowl Brochure 2008.”

In addition to a regular Pennsylvania hunting license, persons 16 and older must have a Federal Migratory Bird and Conservation Stamp, commonly referred to as a “Duck Stamp” to hunt waterfowl. Regardless of age, hunters also must have a Pennsylvania Migratory Game Bird License to hunt waterfowl and other migratory birds, including doves, woodcock, coots, moorhens, rails and snipe. All migratory game bird hunters in the United States are required to complete a Harvest Information Program survey when they purchase a state migratory game bird license. The survey information is then forwarded to the USFWS.