If anything can be both routine and record breaking, Pennsylvania’s archery season is.
It is routine in its coherence. Pennsylvania hosted its first statewide archery season in 1951; this year’s hunt is the 71st in a row since. It spans seven weeks, includes a Sunday, and gives hunters the chance to be in the field during the height of the deer’s rut.
The 2021-22 statewide archery season runs from October 2 to November 13, continues on Sunday, November 14, and then runs from November 15 to 19. It returns on December 27 and ends on January 17.
Archers chasing deer in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 2B and 5C and 5D, around Pittsburgh and Philadelphia respectively, can start hunting two weeks earlier, get an extra Sunday, and can go later in 2022. The archery season in these WMUs begins on September 18th. to November 13, continues Sunday November 14, goes from November 15 to 20, continues a second Sunday, November 21, and goes from November 22 to 26. He returns on December 27 and goes through January 29.
Where the archery season breaks records is in participation.
The state’s first archery season drew just over 5,500 participants. In 2020, for comparison, the Game Commission sold a record 373,700 archery licenses, including those sold to residents of Pennsylvania as well as hunters in other states. This is an increase of 9% from 2019, when 341,847 licenses were sold, and almost 29% from license sales of 289,414 in 2010.
And those who buy archery licenses aren’t the only archery deer hunters in the woods. The holders of combined junior and senior lifetime licenses are also allowed to participate in the archery season, and countless numbers are sure to do so.
David Stainbrook, head of the Game Commission’s deer and elk section, said it was the trend across the country; participation in archery is increasing and as a result the overall percentage of deer catches taken by archers is also increasing.
The National Deer Association (NDA) gave some numbers on this, interviewing state and provincial wildlife agencies in North America to determine the percentage of the total whitetail deer harvest taken with a bow or a crossbow.
He calculated that in the three years from 2017 to 2019, archers made up about 25 percent of all white deer harvested nationally. In the 13-state northeast region, archers took about a third of the deer slaughtered during this time.
A lot of it is what is happening in Keystone State.
According to Game Commission data, archers accounted for 32% of Pennsylvania’s total deer harvest in 2017, 30% in 2018 and 37% in 2019. They still accounted for 37% last year, or 160,480 deer, of which 80 130 dollars.
This does not mean that archers add significantly to the state’s overall deer harvest.
Stainbrook said these numbers represent a shift in harvest rather than an additional harvest, as 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.
The expanded opportunities, such as those offered by deer archery seasons, are however “excellent for the future of the hunt,” the NDA said. They even help “casual” hunters stay engaged, improve opportunities for young hunters and help retain aging hunters, the NDA said.
To help hunters get the most out of the archery season, the Game Commission offers reminders and tips.
Archery hunters can use long, recurve, or compound bows, or crossbows. Bows must have a draw weight of at least 35 pounds; crossbows must have a minimum pulling weight of 125 pounds.
The Game Commission encourages hunters to spend as much time as possible in the field this fall before and during hunting seasons to spot and identify areas where deer roam and litter and fall food is plentiful. Food availability changes from year to year, and in areas where food is spotty, deer often move to find better food. Hot spots change from year to year, even from the start to the end of the season, so keeping track of deer activity and grasping food sources is important.
Archery hunters should practice with their equipment before the start of the season, from the ground and / or a raised stand, and only take responsible shots at deer to ensure a quick and clean kill. Archery hunters should only shoot angled or quartered shots at deer within their maximum effective range, which differs for each hunter depending on their skill level and the type of equipment used.
Hunters can use illuminated notches for arrows and bolts, as they help track or locate the arrow or bolt after it is launched. However, transmitter 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 land. state game, state forests or national 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 land must also be visibly marked with a durable identification tag that identifies the owner of the stand. These labels 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 their unique athlete’s equipment identification number. Hunters can find their number in their HuntFishPA 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.
Safety tips for bow hunters
Make sure someone knows where you are hunting and when you plan to return home. Leave a note or topographic map for your family or friend. Take a cell phone for emergencies.
Practice climbing with your tree stand before the season’s opening day, especially at dawn and dusk. Consider placing non-slip material on your tree’s deck if it isn’t already there.
Always use a fall arrest device – preferably a full body harness – when hunting from a tree. Wear the device from the moment you leave the ground until your return. Do not climb dead, wet, or icy trees. Stay on the ground on windy days.
Use a lifting cable to lift your bow and backpack up to your tree. Trying to climb with either one will put you at unnecessary risk.
Don’t sleep in a tree! If you can’t stay awake, return to the ground.
Keep yourself in good physical condition. Fatigue can impact judgment, coordination and reaction time, as well as accuracy.
Always carry broad-tipped arrows in a protective quiver. Also know how to disarm a crossbow safely.
If you are using a mechanical trigger, always keep your index finger away from the trigger when drawing.
Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for all equipment and check your equipment before each use.
Avoid walking with an arrow or a slotted bolt with a broad point.
Army crossbows should always be pointed in a safe direction. Know how to disarm your crossbow at the end of the legal hunting hours.
Always carry a whistle to signal passers-by in case you become immobile. A compass or GPS unit and a map, matches or a lighter and tinder are also essential survival gear items to have with you. A flashlight with extra bulbs and / or a portable charger for the light and your phone can also be helpful.