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Fall hunting just around the corner

HARRISBURG — Although some hunting seasons are underway, the cooling temperatures and changing leaves signify the best is yet to come.

Pennsylvania’s statewide archery deer season begins Saturday, Oct. 5, and its return is prompting the Pennsylvania Game Commission to issue some helpful reminders about new opportunities.

Among them are additional early bear seasons and a longer firearms deer season that includes a Saturday opener. But many seasons will begin sooner.

In the statewide archery deer season, properly licensed bowhunters statewide can hunt for antlered or antlerless deer through Nov. 16. This later November closing date, which is due to the way the calendar falls, promises to offer some prime hunting days during the deer rut. A late archery deer season then runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 20.

Properly licensed bowhunters in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C and 5D also may take antlered and antlerless deer during an extended late archery season, which runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 25.

The season for squirrels and rabbits for junior license holders only also kicks off on Oct. 5 and runs through Oct. 19, and junior license holders can pursue ring-necked pheasants from Oct. 12-19.

The regular season for squirrels, rabbits, quail, woodcock and ruffed grouse opens Oct. 19, the pheasant season opens the following Saturday, Oct. 26, and the seasons for all six small game species closes on Friday Nov. 29 due to the Saturday firearms deer season opener. The season reopens Dec. 16 through Dec. 24. Then for squirrels, rabbits, quail and pheasants, a winter season runs from Dec. 26-Feb. 29. There again is no late winter grouse season.

Oct. 12 is also the opening of duck season in the North Zone, and the season opens Oct. 19 in the South Zone.

Pennsylvania in 2019 is doubling its number of statewide bear-hunting days, creating the state’s lengthiest bear-hunting opportunity since the 1930s.

The new statewide bear muzzleloader season that begins Oct. 19 and ends Oct. 26 leads the way for an early firearms bear season from Oct. 24-26 for junior and senior hunters, hunters who are on active military duty, and certain disabled persons. A two-week archery season from Oct. 28-Nov. 9 follows.

The four-day general bear season from Nov. 23-27 is followed in some areas by extended seasons that in eight Wildlife Management Units have increased from four to seven days.

“It’s the largest suite of bear-season changes ever approved in a single year,” noted Mark Ternent, Game Commission bear biologist. “In most of the state, we’re going from 14 or 16 days of bear hunting to 32, from three Saturdays to seven, and we will start hunting bears almost two weeks earlier,” he said.

The one week antlerless-only muzzleloader deer season runs statewide from Oct.19-26 and overlaps with a special firearms season Oct. 24-26 for antlerless deer for junior and senior hunters, mentored youth, hunters who are on active military duty, and certain disabled persons.

For the first time in more than 50 years, Pennsylvania’s regular firearms deer season will open on a day other than the Monday after Thanksgiving – Saturday Nov. 30. The season then will run through Dec. 14. A concurrent antlered and antlerless season continues in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D, while in all other WMUs, it’s antlered-only from Nov. 30-Dec. 6, and then antlered and antlerless from Dec. 7-14.

The antlered and antlerless flintlock season runs statewide Dec. 26-Jan. 20; Dec. 26-Jan. 25 in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D.

An extended firearms antlerless only season in the Special Regulation counties of Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia opens Dec. 26 and closes Jan. 25.

Pennsylvania’s wild turkey season begins Nov. 2 in most parts of the state, but hunters are reminded that season lengths vary by WMU, and fall-turkey hunting is closed in some areas.

The seasons are as follows: WMU 1B – Nov. 2-9; WMU 2B (Shotgun and archery gear only) – Nov. 2-22 and Nov. 28-29; WMUs 1A, 2A (Shotgun and archery gear only in Allegheny County), 4A and 4B, – Nov. 2-9 and Nov. 28-29; WMUs 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4C, 4D and 4E – Nov. 2-16 and Nov. 28-29; WMU 2C – Nov. 2-22 and Nov. 28-29; WMU 5A – Nov. 7-9; WMU 5B – Nov. 5-7; WMUs 5C and 5D – CLOSED TO FALL TURKEY HUNTING.

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