Pennsylvania Hunting Seasons

Mike Slinkard

May 29, 2023

Did you know that the available public hunting land in Pennsylvania is equivalent to the size of the entire state of Delaware? With 2.2 million acres to explore, hunters have an excellent opportunity to be successful in the Keystone state. 

But before you venture out into the breathtaking Pennsylvania wilderness, you’ll need to prepare for what lies ahead. Finding big game like deer won’t be the problem — it’s abiding by the state’s various rules and regulations that can get tricky. 

While navigating the regulations can be tricky, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a helpful breakdown of all the essential information hunters should know for PA deer season and other available hunts throughout the year. 

Deer Hunting Season in Pennsylvania

If you’re looking to participate in Pennsylvania’s open season, you’ll need to know the rules and regulations of the Keystone State. Unlike other popular hunting destinations, Pennsylvania has unique statewide rules — like no hunting on Sundays — that could affect hunters during deer season. 

From bag limits to season dates, here’s what you’ll need to know before setting out on your next hunt in Pennsylvania.

Deer Hunting Season Dates 

The available hunting land in Pennsylvania is split into 21 Wildlife Management Units (WMUs). When preparing to enter the hunt, you’ll need to know the specific WMU rules, which can vary across the state. 

Deer Archery Season (Antlered and Antlerless Deer)October 1st – November 18thDecember 26th – January 16thSunday Hunting Permitted on November 13th
Deer Archery Season (Antlered and Antlerless Deer) for WMUs 2B, 5C, and 5DSeptember 17th – November 25thDecember 26th – January 28th Sunday Hunting Permitted on November 13th & 20th
Deer Muzzleloader Season (Antlerless Only)October 15th – October 22nd
Deer Special Firearms Season (Antlerless Only)October 20th – October 22nd 
Regular Firearms Season (Antlered and Antlerless Deer)November 26th – December 10th Sunday Hunting Permitted on November 27th
Deer Flintlock Season (Antlered and Antlerless Deer) December 26th – January 16th
WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D Dates: December 26th – January 28th
Extended Firearms Season (Antlerless Only) in WMUs 2B, 5C, and 5DDecember 26th – January 28th

The special firearms season is reserved for youth hunters, active military members, and senior license holders. Outside of muzzleloaders, adult hunters will need to wait until opening day on Saturday, Nov. 26th, to participate in the regular firearms season.

*The location of your hunting land in Pennsylvania matters: Some seasonal dates will vary slightly in different WMU areas. Please consult the Pennsylvania Game Commission website for additional details. 

Where to Hunt in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is home to 20 state forests, all of which welcome hunters during the open season. Here are some of the best spots the state has to offer: 

Find a beautiful state forest or park nearby through the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and embark on your next hunting experience! 

Approved Hunting Equipment in Pennsylvania

Here’s the list of legal hunting equipment for Pennsylvania: 

  • Long, recurve, compound, and crossbows with broadheads
  • Muzzleloaders
  • Manually operated rifles, handguns, and shotguns
  • Semiautomatic centerfire shotguns with single-shot ammo 

Hunters should always verify the legal hunting regulations within the county and WMU they plan to hunt. For example, Philadelphia county only permits hunters to use bows and arrows when afield. 

Cost of Deer Hunting Licenses 

Regardless of age or residency status, Pennsylvania offers hunting opportunities for everyone. Youth hunters aged 12 to 16 and seniors 65 and older receive a special discounted rate for their hunting licenses. 

Senior$13.97Must purchase a nonresident adult license

Purchasing a general hunting license allows PA hunters to harvest one antlered deer, fall turkey, spring turkey, and other small game. Hunters must purchase additional add-on licenses for the following seasons: 

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  • Residents
    • Antlerless: $6.97
    • Archery: $16.97
    • Muzzleloader: $11.97
  • Nonresidents
    • Antlerless: $26.97
    • Archery: $26.97
    • Muzzleloader: $21.97

Senior license holders have the option to buy a lifetime permit for $51.97. While the license needs to be renewed yearly, there are no additional fees.  

Outdoorsmen can purchase the necessary licenses for their upcoming hunt through the HuntFish PA website. Licenses remain valid for one year. 

Deer Hunting Rules

The statewide bag limit for deer in Pennsylvania is one antlered deer per license year. Hunters are required to purchase an add-on antlerless license to harvest a doe. Hunters can purchase up to six antlerless licenses during the open season as supplies last. 

Outdoorsmen can begin their hunt a half hour before sunrise but must return a half hour following sunset. Unless explicitly stated, hunters are not permitted to go afield and harvest animals on Sundays. 

Exceptions vary across the WMUs in the state, so ensure that you follow the rules and regulations in your designated hunting area. 

Hunters must wear 250 square inches of fluorescent orange on their heads, chests, and backs. This color must be seen from 360 degrees around your body. 

Baiting is illegal in Pennsylvania except when hunting on private land within the Southeast Special Regulations Area. Outdoorsmen must inspect the hunting grounds for signs of bait usage before they start their hunt. 

Other Hunting Seasons in Pennsylvania

Looking for other interesting game hunts? Pennsylvania has you covered: The Keystone State offers special hunting seasons for black bears, bobcats, coyotes, and more.

AnimalSeason Dates
CoyotesAll year round 
Bobcat*January 7th – February 1st 
FoxesOctober 22nd – February 18th
Black Bear*Archery: October 15th – November 5th Firearms: November 19th – November 22nd Muzzleloader: October 15th – October 22nd 
ElkArchery: September 10th – September 24thGeneral: October 31st – November 5th Late Season: December 31st – January 7th
Cottontail RabbitOctober 15th – November 25th December 12th – December 23rdDecember 26th – February 27th Sunday Hunting Permitted on November 13th & 20th

*These hunting seasons are not statewide, so please consult the Pennsylvania Game Commission interactive map to explore eligible zones and WMUs. 


With 51 species of birds and 26 different game mammals available to harvest, it’s no surprise that 1 million hunters venture into Pennsylvania’s forests yearly to fill a tag. Whether you’re a resident or a state visitor, join the masses and experience the hunt of a lifetime! 

*Season dates will vary by county across the state. For specific dates, rules, and regulations in each Pennsylvania county, visit the Pennsylvania Game Commission website for more information.

This information is for general guidance only. Regulations change often and HECS LLC assumes no responsibility for any inaccuracy in the  guidelines listed above. It is always the hunter’s responsibility to be in compliance with all laws and rules.

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About the Author : Mike Slinkard

A hunter displaying his bear on rocks near a lake

Mike Slinkard is a life long bow hunter, professional archer, successful entrepreneur, and self described science geek from the rural town of John Day Oregon. Mike has spent his life in close proximity to all types of animals. His grandfather was a well known cattle and horse rancher who first instilled Mike’s keen interest in animals and why they react the way they do in different situations. Mike’s insatiable curiosity in this realm led him to team with other professionals to make the HECS discovery in 2009. Mike has hunted all over the world and has taken over 30 species with archery gear including 48 elk to date. Mike currently hosts “Hunting with HECS TV” on the Pursuit Channel. He has also written many bow hunting and archery articles as well as being a guest on many different hunting podcasts.

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