Deer firearm season in Pennsylvania starts with big changes

PITTSBURGH — The coronavirus led to more people picking up outdoor activities this year.

The state’s Fish and Boat Commission reports there were 156,000 more anglers this year and the number of hunters is on the rise.

“General hunting licenses I believe are up around 7% some of the specialty licenses. There are even a little higher than that. But a lot of people I think are taking advantage of the fact that they have more time than what they’ve had in the past,” said Patrick Snickles, southwest region information & education supervisor for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

As more people take to the woods, there are big changes statewide and locally, the first being, if you are stopped for a license and safety check -- wardens will be standing back.

“Don’t be offended if an officer stands an extra few feet away this year it’s just, again, it’s just social distancing is just a precaution. He will read he or she will reach out to, to ask you for your license and you can certainly hand it to them,” Snickles said.

Another big statewide change impacting all is there’s one Sunday hunting day – that’s Nov. 29. So if you’re a non-hunter heading out for that Sunday hike, be alert.

Now the southwestern Pennsylvania region will see two other changes this year. The first being if you hunt in a certain area—consisting of Allegheny, Armstrong, and Indiana along with parts of Westmoreland, Butler and Fayette—both bucks and does can be hunted during the entire 14-day season.

“There’s a concurrent season this year, which means that antlerless deer can be harvested from the first day of deer season, through the last day of deer season,” Snickles said.

Snickles said the change is to help stop the spread of chronic wasting disease, a deadly brain disease that’s been found in more deer in most of the state.

It’s now appeared and spread in Indiana and Westmoreland counties.

“Basically, all of northern Indiana County, and a small section of Armstrong county. DMA 2 here in which covers part of Westmoreland County has been extended over to route 217 which basically goes from route 30 near Latrobe up to Derry,” Snickles said.

The game commission reminds hunters if you hunt in these areas don’t move high risk parts and consider getting your game tested.

And, remember to wear your harness in a tree stand.