Saturday marks start of archery season in state

Pennsylvania’s statewide archery deer season begins Saturday, Sept. 30, and its return is prompting the Pennsylvania Game Commission to issue some helpful reminders.

Archers statewide can hunt for antlered or antlerless deer from Sept. 30 to Nov. 11, and during the late archery deer season, which runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 13.

Archery hunters may use long, recurve 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.

The Game Commission encourages hunters to spend as much time as possible afield this fall prior to and during the hunting seasons to pattern deer movements and identify areas where fall foods are abundant.

“Food availability changes year to year based on a number of factors, and in areas where food is spotty, deer will move to find it,” said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “That means last year’s hotspot might be somewhere else this year, and the only way to know for sure is to get out there and find it.

“Even after the season begins, tracking changes in deer activity, their movements and the foods they’re targeting are keys to success, especially early in October,” Burhans said.

Bowhunters are urged to take only responsible shots at deer to ensure a quick, clean kill. Archery and crossbow hunters should take only broadside or quartering away shots at deer within their maximum effective shooting range – the farthest distance from which a hunter can consistently place arrows or bolts into a pie pan-sized target.

Hunters may use illuminated nocks for arrows and bolts; they aid in tracking or locating the arrow or bolt after being launched. However, transmitter-tracking arrows are illegal.

Tree stands and climbing devices that cause damage to trees are unlawful 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 unlawful to build or occupy tree stands screwed or nailed to trees on state game lands, state forests or state parks.

Hunters are reminded portable hunting tree stands and blinds are not permitted on state game lands until two weeks before the opening of the archery deer season, and they must be removed no later than two weeks after the close of the flintlock and late archery deer seasons in the WMU being hunted.

Tree stands placed on state game lands also must be conspicuously marked with a durable identification tag that identifies the stand owner. Tags may include the owner’s name and address, the CID number that appears on the owner’s hunting license, or a unique identification number issued by the Game Commission. Identification numbers can be obtained at The Outdoor Shop on the Game Commission’s website.

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