Pennsylvania's only unofficial holiday - the Monday after Thanksgiving, which marks the opening day of the two-week general deer season - will feature nearly 750,000 individuals sporting fluorescent orange and camouflage clothing throughout Penn's Woods, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe.
"Pennsylvania's deer season has a dramatic and beneficial effect on the Commonwealth, as it provides hunters a chance to put venison in the freezer and stimulates a multi-million dollar economic surge that local businesses rely on," Roe said. "In addition to being a rich part of our state’s heritage, deer season also is the most important method that the Game Commission has to manage Pennsylvania's whitetails. The efforts of hunters are far-reaching, and they help to keep deer populations in check and enable the agency to meet deer management goals that benefit almost everyone who resides, visits or travels through this state."
Roe noted that hunters will need to make sure that they have done their pre-season scouting, as fall food conditions will impact deer movements.
"Deer will respond to food availability and hunter pressure, both of which can vary from year to year, and from one area to another," Roe said. "Our fall food survey suggests wildlife food abundance is quite variable this year. Some areas have good acorn crops; others have few or no acorns. So, as always, pre-season scouting can improve a hunter's chance for success this year, particularly in the week leading up to the start of season."
Deer season will open with a five-day, antlered deer-only season in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 2C, 2D, 2E, 2G, 3C, 4B, 4D and 4E from Nov. 29-Dec. 3. It is followed immediately in these WMUs by seven days of concurrent, antlered and antlerless deer hunting beginning Dec. 4, and continuing through Dec. 11. The rest of the state follows the two-week concurrent, antlered and antlerless season – Nov. 29-Dec. 11 – that has been in place since 2001.
Hunters must wear 250 square inches of fluorescent orange material on the head, chest and back combined at all times while afield during the seasons. They also are advised that it's illegal to hunt, chase or disturb deer within 150 yards of any occupied building without the occupant's permission if they are using a firearm, or 50 yards if they are using a bow or crossbow.
During the two-week season, hunters may use any legal sporting arm, as outlined on page 45 of the 2010-11 Digest. Rifles are not permitted to be used in Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware or Montgomery counties. Deer hunters in Philadelphia may only use bows or crossbows.
All hunters who take a deer must fill out their harvest tag and attach it to the deer's ear before moving the carcass. The tag can be secured to the base of the ear with a string drawn very tightly, if the hunter plans to have the deer mounted. Cutting a slit in the ear to attach the tag will require additional work by a taxidermist.
Roe noted that there is no concurrent bear season during any portion of this year's deer season.