Finding your way through Pennsylvania's hunting rules and regulations is like trying to find your way through a maze. It helps if you know just what animal you want to hunt and how you're going to hunt for it -- gun, bow and arrow, falcon or trap. All hunters 12 years and older must have the appropriate license -- hunters age 12 through 16 must take a hunter education course before they can be licensed.
Deer, elk and black bear are considered big game. Exact dates of hunting seasons for these animals vary annually. Hunting season also depends on how you'll be hunting them and in what game management unit. Hunters are limited to taking one black bear and one elk during each license year, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, which administers the state's hunting laws. Hunters are limited to one antlered buck deer per license year, and must have a separate license for an antlerless doe taken. Depending on the management unit, the black bear season starts around mid-November and runs through early December, although only several days of hunting are allowed in each unit. Deer season runs from September through January, depending on the management unit and weapon used. Elk season is generally in November.
The game commission has set bag limits of six per day, or 12 in a hunter's possession at any one time, for squirrels, groundhogs, porcupines and rabbits. No bag limit is set on raccoons, foxes, opossums, skunks and weasels; however, while opossums, skunks and weasels can be hunted year round, they cannot be hunted on Sundays. Hunting season for most of these animals is during the fall and early winter months.
The state sets separate seasons and bag limits for upland or non-migratory birds. Wild turkey hunting is limited to certain days in October and November, depending on the game management unit. Spring gobblers are hunted in the spring, with a bag limit of two. Pheasant season runs sporadically from October through February -- the daily bag limit is two birds. Other birds that can be hunted in Pennsylvania include grouse, bobtails, crows and English sparrows. While the other birds have specific hunting season, it's open season all year round on starlings and English sparrows, though they may not be hunted during deer season.
People who hunt migratory waterfowl in Pennsylvania need federal and state duck stamps in addition to hunting licenses. The state sets a bag limit of six ducks daily, 12 in possession, but there are number limits on each type of duck. For example, duck types are limited to four mallards, three woodchucks and two redheads.