The much-anticipated archery deer hunting season is set to open in a split season beginning Sept. 18 including a Sunday date on Nov. 14, in Wildlife Management Areas 2B, 5C and 5D. After that in these WMU’s, the season runs Nov. 15-20; continues on a second Sunday, Nov. 21; and goes from Nov. 22-26 and again Dec. 27-Jan. 29.
The statewide season opens Oct. 2. To Nov. 14 (Sunday), then again on Nov. 15-19, then Dec. 27-Jan.17.
In 2020, the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) reported that 373,700 archery licenses were sold, a big difference from the 5,500 sold during the first archery season in 1951. These numbers go to show the increase in popularity of bowhunting in Pennsylvania.
These totals also reflect that bowhunters managed to take 160,380 deer of which 80,130 were bucks in 2020. This accounts for 37 percent of the overall 2020 deer harvest.
The local WMU archery seasons estimated harvest breakdown is as follows. The numbers in parenthesis are last season’s totals with “A” representing antlered and “AL” representing antlerless deer AL.
WMU 3C: 2,670 (2250) A; 2,240 (1,470) AL
WMU 4C: 3,260 (3,550) A; 2,890 (2,960) AL
WMU 5C: 5,810 (5,330) A; 7,410 (7,075) AL
WMU 5D: 1,790 (2,180) A; 4,310 (4,460) AL
Here are some PGC rule updates for the upcoming season.
*Hunters may use illuminated nocks for arrows and bolts, as they aid in tracking or locating the arrow or bolt after being launched. However, the PGC says transmitter-tracking arrows remain illegal.
*As for tree stands and climbing devices, the PGC mandates that both forms that cause damage to trees are unlawful to use or occupy unless the user has permission from the landowner. Tree stands or steps that penetrate a tree’s cambium layer causes damage and is unlawful to build or occupy tree stands screwed or nailed to trees on state game lands, state forests or state parks are illegal. Portable hunting tree stands and blinds are allowed on state game lands, must be removed no later than two weeks after the close of the flintlock and late archery deer seasons in WMU’s being hunted. And those used on state game lands must be conspicuously marked with a durable I.D. tag that identifies the stand owner and include the hunter’s full name, legal home address and nine-digit CID number that appears on their hunting license.
Some other tips for tree stand hunting is hunters should use a fall restraining device, preferably a full-body harness and be used the moment leaving the ground. The PGC strongly suggests not climbing on dead or icy trees and to stay on the ground on blustery days.
Oh yes. And don’t sleep in a tree stand. If sleepy, get down.
In retrospect I once owned and used a Screaming Eagle fixed tree stand. It was made of heavy steel and very sturdy. The company, at the time, would advertise it showing it holding a VW beetle bug coupe. Only part that would worry me was during set-up as it came with a hefty chain that would encircle the tree then hook onto the stand. To complete the installation, the company recommended jumping on it a couple times to set it onto the tree as I hugged the tree. At that time there were no body harnesses on the market, so I used a utility line worker’s type belt with rope, carabiner and thick steel O-ring for attachment. But it still worried me that the stand would slide down as did a Loggy Bayou climber I once owned.
Every year a few hunters fall from a tree stand, some of which are fatal falls. So a word to the wise, use a harness, even on a ladder stand.
Here are a few more safety tips on tree stands from the PGC.
*Choose a live, straight tree and avoid ash that may decline due to emerald ash borers.
*But Smart. Only use stands certified by the Treestand Manufacturers Association,
*Inspect your stand each time you use them for wear and tear and before erecting it.
*Don’t go too high. The higher up you go, the vital zone on a deer decreases, while the likelihood of a serious injury increases.
*Be careful with long-term placement as exposure to the elements can damage straps, ropes and attachment cords. Plus, a stand’s stability can be compromised over time, and as the tree grows.
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.