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HARRISBURG – While Pennsylvania’s statewide fall archery deer season doesn’t open until Hunting-and-Fishing-October-1927-1 Sept. 29, archery hunters with an antlerless deer license for Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C and 5D can start hunting Saturday, Sept. 15, according to Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe.

Statewide archers can hunt antlered or antlerless deer from Sept. 29 to Nov. 12, and during the late archery deer season, which runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 12.

The antlerless deer seasons in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D, for those with antlerless licenses from these three urbanized WMUs, are Sept. 15-Sept. 28, and Nov. 12-Nov. 24. Bowhunters also may take antlered and antlerless deer in these units during the late archery season, which runs from Dec. 26-Jan. 26.

Archery hunters may choose to use a long, recurve or compound bow, or a crossbow.  Bows must have a draw weight of at least 35 pounds; crossbows must have a minimum drawn weight of at least 125 pounds. Broadheads on either an arrow or a bolt must have an outsi


de diameter or width of at least seven-eighths inches with at least two cutting edges on the same plane throughout the length of the cutting surface, and shall not exceed three inches in length.

The Game Commission encourages hunters to spend as much time as possible afield this fall prior to and during the hunting seasons to pattern deer movements and identify areas where fall foods are abundant.

“Hunt as often as you can, and scout every time you head afield,” Roe said. “Try to figure out which food sources deer are using. And pay attention to prevailing wind direction. These adjustments really can make a difference.”

Those participating in the archery seasons are urged to take only responsible shots at deer to ensure a quick, clean kill. For most, that’s a shot of 20 yards or less at a deer broadside or quartering away. Archery and crossbow hunters should shoot at only deer that are within their maximum effective shooting range - the furthest distance from which a hunter can consistently place arrows or bolts into a pie pan-sized target.

Hunters may use illuminated nocks for arrows and bolts; they aid in tracking or locating the arrow or bolt after being launched.  However, transmitter-tracking arrows still are illegal. It also remains illegal to use dogs to track wounded deer.

Tree-stands and climbing devices that cause damage to trees are unlawful to use or occupy unless the user has written permission from the landowner. Treestands - or tree steps - penetrating a tree’s cambium layer cause damage, and it is unlawful to build or occupy tree-stands screwed or nailed to trees on State Game Lands, state forests or state parks.

Hunters are reminded that Game Commission regulations limit the placement of portable hunting treestands and blinds on State Game Lands from two weeks before the opening of the first big game season – which is the archery deer season - to two weeks after the close of the last big game season – which is the late archery deer season - within each respective Wildlife Management Unit, excluding the spring gobbler season. Stands must be removed from State Game Lands two weeks after the late archery deer season. 

“Hunters need to remember that placing a treestand on State Game Lands does not reserve a hunting area,” Roe said.  “The first person to arrive in a certain spot has the right to hunt that area.”

Other safety tips bowhunters should consider before heading afield and while hunting include:


- Make sure someone knows where you're hunting and when you expect to return home. Leave a note or topographic map with your family or a friend. Pack a cellular telephone for emergencies.


- Always use a fall-restraint device - preferably a full-body harness - when hunting from a tree-stand. Wear the device from the moment you leave the ground until you return. Don't climb dead, wet or icy trees. Stay on the ground on blustery days.


- Get in good physical condition before the season starts. Fatigue can impact judgment, coordination and reaction time, as well as accuracy. Staying physically fit makes a difference.


- Always carry a whistle to signal passersby in the event you become immobile. A compass and matches or lighter and tinder also are essential survival gear items to have along. An extra flashlight bulb also can be helpful.


- Use a hoist rope to lift your bow and backpack to your treestand. Trying to climb with either will place you at unnecessary risk.


- Don't sleep in a tree-stand! If you can't stay awake, return to the ground.


- Always carry broadhead-tipped arrows in a protective quiver.


- If you use a mechanical release, always keep your index finger away from the trigger when drawing.


- Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for all equipment and check your equipment before each use.


- Practice climbing with your treestand before dawn on the opening day of the season. Consider placing non-slip material on the deck of your tree-stand if it's not already there.


-Never walk with a nocked, broadhead-tipped arrow or bolt.


-Cocked crossbows should always be pointed in a safe direction.  Keep your thumb and fingers below the crossbow’s string and barrel at all times.


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