At their recent meeting, the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners gave final approval to the 2018-19 hunting/trapping seasons, and a lot more.
The first bit of news is that the agency increased the antlerless deer allocation from 804,000 licenses last season, to 838,000 for the upcoming seasons.
Locally, Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) 5C remained the same at 70,000. Other local WMU’s include: 5B, 58,000 (57,000); 5D, 28,000 (30,000).
The board also voted to issue 125 elk licenses (26 antlered, 99 antlerless) for the 2018 hunt, whose drawing will be held July 31. Only one application may be submitted each license year.
In other news, the board adopted a split, five-day antlered deer season for 2018-19 (Nov. 26-Nov. 30) and a seven-day concurrent season (Dec. 1-8) in 20 WMU of 1A, 1B, 2A, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 5B. The adoption retains the two-week (Nov. 26-Dec. 8) concurrent, antlered and antlerless deer season in WMU’s 2B, 5C and 5D.
Final approval was also given for concurrent antlered and antlerless deer hunting seasons in WMU’s 2B, 5C and 5D during most seasons. The first part of the archery season will also run from Sept. 15 to Nov. 24 in those particular WMUs.
In other actions, the board is now allowing Pennsylvania hunters who hold a senior lifetime hunting license to be exempt from buying a pheasant hunting permit in the 2018-19 license year. Adult hunters will still need to purchase the permit and junior hunters will need a free permit in 2018-19. This requirement became a regulation on May 13, 2017 to make the pheasant propagation program more cost-effective. The annual cost of this program says the PGC, was reduced from about $4.7 million to about $2.3 million due to the permit that generated more than $1.1 million to help offset the propagation costs. The PGC says nearly 43,000 hunters purchased a pheasant permit and about 4,300 of them, were senior lifetime license buyers.
The PGC Board also approved the statewide use of semiautomatic centerfire shotguns that propel single-projectile ammunition to hunt deer, bear and elk in 2018-19. For elk, the shotgun needs to be 12-gauge or larger.
Historically, the PGC has permitted the use of semi-auto shotguns for deer and bear within the special regulations areas near Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
And lastly, the PGC Board removed the requirement to obtain a baiting permit for private property landowners in southeastern counties. There are, however, bait requirements. Bait used is limited to shelled corn or protein-pellet supplements; bait accumulation must not exceed five gallons at any time; bait only can be used from two weeks before the opening of the first deer season to the close of the last deer season; automatic mechanical feeders must be used; and the feeder must distribute bait during hunting hours, and no more than three times a day.
Prior to this, private landowners in the Southeast Special Regulations Areas had to secure a permit before using bait on their lands. And bait-hunting is often the only way to reduce burgeoning deer herds in those areas that destroy property, cause Lyme disease and costly automobile-deer collisions.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.