The Pennsylvania Game Commission has some big changes in store for the 2021-22 hunting season.
The commission is permitting unlimited doe tags, expanding the species that can be hunted on certain Sundays, limiting turkey seasons and issuing electronic licenses, Lancaster Online reports.
Pennsylvania Proposes Unlimited Doe Tags
Each year, the commission issues a finite number of antlerless deer licenses for a given area. They determine the allocations for each area based on the local deer population.
But recently, the commission has failed to sell all the licenses it issued. For example, last season, two of the areas had a combined total of 16,000 unsold licenses.
Right now, every hunter is limited to three antlerless licenses for areas outside the Special Regulations Areas of WMU 5C, 5D and 2B. In those areas, hunters can have an unlimited number of licenses.
But the commission is considering a proposal under which hunters outside those areas could have more than three licenses. The catch? Hunters inside those areas won’t be able to carry as many tags as they want at a time.
The idea is for hunters to be able to buy an unlimited number of doe tags statewide per season. But at any one time, a hunter can have no more than four tags with him or her.
So there would be no limit on how many tags a hunter can use through the course of a season. But hunters could only have four doe tags in hand at any given point.
Expanded Species for Sunday Hunting
Up until recently, Pennsylvania law only allowed fox, crow and coyote hunting on Sundays. But last year, the state Legislature changed the law to allow expanded hunting on three specific Sundays.
One Sunday was devoted to bowhunting for deer, one to hunting for deer with firearms and one to hunting for bear.
In 2021, Nov. 14 will be for bowhunting for deer. Nov. 21 will be for bear hunting. And Nov. 28 will be for firearms deer hunting.
Beyond that, the commission wants to allow small game and furbearer hunting on Nov. 14 and 21.
Turkey Seasons Limited
Wild turkey populations are dropping in many wildlife management units. So the commission wants to limit or close fall turkey seasons in 15 areas.
In WMU 5A, the fall season would be eliminated entirely. In other areas, the commission would reduce the season from two weeks to one week, or would cut it back by three days to a week.
The commission is not suggesting any changes to the spring turkey season.
Electronic Licenses Amid the Pandemic
At the moment, all hunters in Pennsylvania have to carry paper hunting licenses. Starting next season, the commission wants to let hunters carry electronic licenses.
The electronic licenses would be a digital copy of their license that hunters could tote around on their phones. However, paper carcass tags for game animals would still be necessary.
So under their plan, hunters could keep a digital copy of their hunting license with them on their phone, and the commission could mail them the paper carcass tags.
It would still be possible to go to a license agent and buy a paper license, then get all your tags then.
Game Commissioners’ Upcoming Meeting
Furthermore, at an upcoming meeting, the Board of Game Commissioners will be debating issues surrounding the 2021-22 hunting season, such as hunting season dates and bag limits.
That meeting will happen virtually at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23, and can be watched live by registering at the board’s website, pgc.pa.gov.