Proper Licensing, Tagging and Reporting for Deer Season

Hunters during the statewide firearms season can harvest antlered deer if they possess a valid general hunting license, which costs $20.90 for adult residents and $101.90 for adult nonresidents.

Each hunter between the ages of 12 and 16 must possess a junior license, which costs $6.90 for residents and $41.90 for nonresidents.

Hunters younger than 12 must possess a valid mentored youth hunting permit and be accompanied at all times by a properly licensed adult mentor, as well as follow other regulations.

Mentored-hunting opportunities also are available for adults, but only antlerless deer may be taken by mentored adult hunters.

Those holding senior lifetime licenses are reminded they must obtain a new antlered deer harvest tag each year, free of charge, to participate in the season.

To take an antlerless deer, a hunter must possess either a valid antlerless deer license or a valid permit.

In the case of mentored hunters without their own tags, the mentor must possess a valid tag that can be transferred to the mentored hunter at the time of harvest.

In addition to regular antlerless licenses, Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permits can be used to take antlerless deer.

A DMAP permit can be used throughout the 12-day firearms season, but only on the specific property for which it is issued.

Regular antlerless deer licenses may be used only within the wildlife management unit for which they’re issued, in most cases starting on Saturday, Dec. 1.

WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D offer concurrent antlered and antlerless deer hunting throughout the statewide firearms deer season.

DMAP permits for some properties might still be available, but at the time of this release, antlerless licenses were sold out in all units but WMUs 2A and 2B.

General hunting licenses can be purchased online, but as the season nears, hunters might find it better to purchase licenses in person.

Deer licenses purchased online are mailed, meaning they might not arrive in time if purchased too close to the start of the season.

Hunters are reminded the field possession of expired licenses or tags, or another hunter’s licenses or tags is unlawful.

Tagging and Reporting

A valid tag must be affixed to the ear of each deer harvested before that deer is moved. The tag must be filled out with a ball-point pen by the hunter.

Within 10 days of a harvest, a successful hunter is required to make a report to the Game Commission. Harvests can be reported online at the Game Commission’s Web site – www.pgc.pa.gov – by clicking on the “Report a Harvest” button on the home page.

Reporting online not only is the quickest way to report a harvest, it’s the most cost-effective for the Game Commission.

Harvests also can be reported by mailing in the postage-paid cards that are provided when licenses are purchased, or successful hunters can call 1-855-PAHUNT1 (1-855-724-8681) to report by phone.

Those reporting by phone are asked to have their license number and other information about the harvest ready at the time they call.

Mentored youth hunters are required to report deer harvests within five days. And hunters with DMAP or Disease Management Area 2 permits must report on their hunting success, regardless of whether they harvest deer.

By reporting their deer harvests, hunters play a key role in providing information used to estimate harvests and the deer population within each WMU.

Estimates are key to managing deer populations, and hunters are asked to do their part in this important process.

Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2012. To help prevent the spread of CWD, the Game Commission created Disease Management Areas (DMA) where specific regulations apply.

Currently there are three DMAs. DMA 2 includes parts of Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Clearfield, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Juniata, Perry, Huntingdon and Somerset counties.

DMA 3 includes about 350 square miles in Armstrong, Clarion, Clearfield, Indiana and Jefferson counties. And DMA 4 encompasses 346 square miles in Berks, Lancaster and Lebanon counties.

For the specific boundaries of each DMA, check the Game Commission’s Web site –www.pgc.pa.gov.

Hunters harvesting deer within a DMA may not export deer parts deemed to have a high-risk of spreading CWD from the DMA. The head – specifically the brain, eyes, tonsils and lymph nodes, spinal cord and spleen are considered high-risk parts.

In addition, hunters harvesting deer in CWD-positive states or provinces cannot import these high-risk parts into Pennsylvania.

Once high-risk parts are removed, hunters can export the remaining meat on or off the bone, cleaned capes, cleaned skull plates with antlers and finished taxidermy mounts from the DMA.

Hunters can dispose of high-risk parts through their curbside trash service or in dumpsters provided by the Game Commission. Locations of dumpsters can be found on the Game Commission’s Web site – www.pgc.pa.gov.

Hunters may take their harvested deer to any processor or taxidermist within the DMA. In some cases, cooperating processors and taxidermists just beyond the border of a DMA can accept deer from a DMA.

A list of cooperating processors and taxidermists is available on the Game Commission’s Web site – www.pgc.pa.gov.

Hunters who take deer within DMAs can have their deer tested – free of charge – for CWD, and at the same time help the Game Commission fight this deadly disease.

The Game Commission has installed large metal bins for the collection of harvested deer heads within DMA 2, DMA 3 and DMA 4. The bins, which are similar to those used for clothing donations, keep contents secure and are checked and emptied regularly through the deer-hunting seasons.

All deer heads brought to the white-colored head-drop-off bins must be lawfully tagged, with the harvest tag legibly completed and attached to the deer’s ear and placed in a tied-shut plastic bag.

The head can be bagged before being brought to the bin, or hunters can use the bags provided at bins.

Once submitted for testing, deer heads will not be returned to hunters. Hunters wishing to keep antlers should remove them prior to submitting.

Hunters will be notified of disease testing results within six weeks. Hunters who harvest deer outside a DMA can make arrangements with the Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System if they want their deer to be tested. There is a fee associated with this testing.

More information about this process can be found online at www.padls.org.

In addition to heads deposited in bins, the Game Commission will be collecting heads from processors throughout the state for CWD surveillance.  However, hunters should not assume a deer taken to a processor will be tested for CWD.

CWD is always fatal to deer and there is no vaccine or cure. The disease is spread by deer-to-deer contact and through the environment.

Although there is no known case of it being transmitted to humans, the Game Commission and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend people do not consume meat from deer that test positive for CWD.

For more information on CWD, drop-off dumpsters and rules applying within DMAs, visit the Game Commission’s Web site – www.pgc.pa.us.

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