The 71st Pennsylvania statewide deer archery season opens Saturday through Friday November 19, and with a winter archery season December 27 through January 31 . 17.
A record 373,700 hunters purchased archery licenses last year, a 9% increase from 2019, when 341,847 licenses were purchased. Just over 5,500 participants hunted in Pennsylvania’s first archery season in 1951.
Those who buy archery licenses aren’t the only archery deer hunters in the woods. Holders of combined junior and senior lifetime licenses are also eligible to participate in the archery season.
David Stainbrook, head of the deer and elk section of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, said the trend across the country to increase participation in archery hunting and a concomitant increase in the percentage of deer slaughtered by archers.
The National Deer Association surveyed state and provincial wildlife agencies in North America to determine the percentage of the total whitetail deer harvest caught with a bow or crossbow.
He calculated that 2017-19 archers made up about 25% of all white deer harvested nationally. In the 13-state northeast region, archers took about a third of the deer slaughtered during this time.
According to commission data, archers made up 32% of Pennsylvania’s total deer harvest in 2017, 30% in 2018, 37% in 2019 and 37% last year.
But, Stainbrook noted that doesn’t mean archers add significantly to the state’s overall deer harvest. This is a change in harvest rather than an additional harvest since many archers are also rifle hunters. They simply take advantage of the available seasons and fill out their tags earlier in the fall, with a bow or crossbow, than they otherwise could have done with a gun.
Archery hunters can use long, classic, or compound bows or crossbows. Bows must have a draw weight of at least 35 pounds. Crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 125 pounds.
Hunters can use illuminated notches for arrows and bolts, as they help track or locate the arrow or bolt after it is launched. But the transmitter’s tracking arrows are illegal.
Tree stands and climbing devices that cause damage to trees are illegal to use or occupy unless the user has written permission from the landowner. Tree stands or tree steps penetrating a tree’s cambium layer cause damage, and it is illegal to build or occupy tree stands screwed or nailed to trees on game land. state, state forests or state parks.
Portable hunting tree racks and blinds are permitted on state game lands, but not until two weeks before the archery season opens. Hunters must remove them no later than two weeks after the end of the flintlock hunting and late archery seasons in the FMU.
In all cases, stands of trees on state game lands must also be clearly marked with a durable identification tag that identifies the owner of the stand. The tag must include the hunter’s first and last name and legal home address, the nine-digit CID number that appears on their hunting license or unique athletic equipment identification number. Hunters can find their number in their HuntFishPA.com online profile or on their printed license.
Hunters planning to visit private property on Sundays open to archers must have written permission from the landowner with them to attend.