The Top 5 Reasons Pennsylvania Is the Best State for Deer Hunting

Written by Maura Hoff
Published: November 19, 2023
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Pennsylvania locals will share reasons why Pennsylvania is the best state for deer hunting. White-tail deer hunting traditions run deep in Pennsylvania and are celebrated widely across the state.

Hunters can harvest many animals throughout the year within the state. Ducks, geese, bears, squirrels, rabbits, and more are popular among the Pennsylvania hunting community. Still, white-tail deer hunting is a particular passion among many hunters in the Keystone State. From the Allegheny National Forest to beautiful, rolling farmland, it is a treat to hunt in Pennsylvania. Read on to learn the top five reasons Pennsylvania is the best state for deer hunting.

Discover the 5 reasons why Pennsylvania is the best state for hunting deer in the U.S.

#1: Access to Public Hunting Lands

Large white-tailed deer buck in woods

White-tailed deer are the most common deer in the United States.

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One of Pennsylvania’s biggest strengths in the white-tailed deer community is the access to public lands. Over 14% of Pennsylvania is public land, which equates to over four million acres. In addition to the public land, Pennsylvania has over two million acres of land available for hunting through private arrangements.

Pennsylvania has several hunting seasons throughout the year, even for white-tailed deer, depending on the hunter’s preferred method.

#2: Deer Quality

white-tailed deer

The Pennsylvania Game Commission implemented an

antler

restriction policy in 2002 to help maintain the quality of Pennsylvania’s white-tailed deer population.

©Tom Reichner/Shutterstock.com

Historically, Pennsylvania’s deer quality was not great for hunting large white-tail buck. While Pennsylvania is known for its consistent bounty, white-tailed deer used to be smaller in size.

In 2002, the Pennsylvania Game Commission passed new restrictions for hunting antlered deer. The new antler restrictions prevented hunters from shooting deer that were too small. Biologists believe this implementation will continue to help the deer population grow and thrive. Records show the antler point restrictions have not interfered with hunting success rates over the past two decades.

#3: Season Dates and Length

Whitetail Buck Deer close up portrait of large trophy class stag during hunting season

It is not legal to hunt white-tailed deer in Pennsylvania on Sundays.

©Tom Reichner/Shutterstock.com

Many hunters in Pennsylvania appreciate the length of time they can hunt deer throughout the year. The seasons differ depending on the hunter’s method. Hunters can choose to hunt white-tail through archery, firearms, or muzzleloaders. Pennsylvania is also the only state in the country with a white-tail deer flintlock hunting season.

The Pennsylvania archery white-tail deer season stretches from early October into January, allowing for a liberal hunting season. Hunters are able to use regular firearms for two weeks between November and December. Locals refer to this as “rifle season.”

#4: License Costs and Availability

Deer. The white-tailed deer also known as the whitetail or Virginia deer in winter on snow. White taild deer is the wildlife symbol of Wisconsin and game animal of Oklahoma.

White-tailed deer, or Virginia deer, can run up to 30 miles per hour and jump approximately 10 feet in the air.

©Karel Bock/Shutterstock.com

The Pennsylvania white-tailed deer hunting license is easily attainable and reasonably priced. For the 2023-2024 season, a resident hunting license cost less than $20.97. The non-resident hunting license costs $101.97, which is low for an out-of-state permit.

The general Pennsylvania hunting license allows one antlered deer for the season. A separate license is required to participate in archery or muzzleloader season. There is also a separate permit to hunt an antlerless white-tailed deer.

Special permits are also available for youth, military veterans, and more. As always, confirm your hunting permit is accurate and appropriate for your hunting method prior to hunting. Failure to do so will result in a fine.

#5: Local Culture

Two whitetail fawns munching on clover in a clearing.

There are more than 26 subspecies of white-tailed deer in the world.

©Lester Graham/Shutterstock.com

White-tail deer hunting is embedded into Pennsylvania culture. What started as a necessity quickly became a tradition for generations to come. Pennsylvanians take deer hunting so seriously that schools are shut down on the first day of “rifle season.” Kids can register for the Pennsylvania Hunter-Trapper Education course at eleven years old.

Traditional deer camps are also common in Pennsylvania. Many out-of-state hunters choose to hunt deer in Pennsylvania for both the bounty and the comradery. Hunting in Pennsylvania isn’t just a day in the woods, it’s a full experience. Often, hunters request time off work during the first week of regular firearm use. This is commonly referred to as “buck week.”

Summary of the Five Reasons Pennsylvania Is the Best State for Deer Hunting

Reasons Pennsylvania Is the Best State for Deer HuntingWhy?
1.Access to Public Hunting LandsOver four million acres of Pennsylvania is public land.
2.Deer QualityDeer quality continues to improve due to the antler restrictions established in 2002.
3.Season Dates and LengthPennsylvania has a reasonable whitetail deer season for archery and firearms.
4.License Cost and AvailabilityPennsylvania whitetail deer tags are reasonably priced and easily accessible.
5.Local CultureNorthern deer camps and school closures contribute to the positive Pennsylvania deer hunting culture.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Tom Reichner/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Maura Hoff is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is dogs, travel, and hiking. She has been writing for over 10 years and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Pennsylvania State University in 2016. When Maura isn't writing, she spends time with her husband and two Golden Retrievers, Basil and Sunny, in the Colorado mountains. Her passions are cooking, reading, music, and quoting her favorite show, The Office.

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