Wishing Our Bowhunters Safe Days Afield


The time has almost come! Pennsylvania’s statewide archery deer seasons begins tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 29.

This exciting day marks the start of a brand new hunting season, where archers will be afield and have the opportunity to make lifelong memories in Penn’s Woods. We wish all of our bowhunters lots of luck while hunting safely throughout the season.

Statewide, properly licensed archers can hunt for antlered or antlerless deer from Sept. 29 through Nov. 12, and again during the late archery deer season, which runs from Dec. 26 through Jan. 12. (The statewide season was moved to end on a Monday this year so it could include the Veterans Day holiday.)

At the time of the statewide opener, archery hunters in three urbanized areas of the state will have had a two-week head start to their seasons. An early season for antlered and antlerless deer in Wildlife Management Units (WMU) 2B, 5C and 5D kicked off on Sept. 15 and ends Nov. 24. Properly licensed bowhunters in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D also may take antlered and antlerless deer during an extended late archery season, which runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 26.

In order to make safety a first priority, archery hunters should…

  • Make sure someone knows where he or she is hunting and when they expect to return home. Perhaps even leave a note or topographic map describing their whereabouts.
  • Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for all equipment and check their equipment before each use.
  • Always carry broadhead-tipped arrows in a protective quiver.
  • Avoid walking with a nocked, broadhead-tipped arrow or bolt. Cocked crossbows should always be pointed in a safe direction.
  • Always keep their index finger away from the trigger when drawing, when using a mechanical release.
  • Keep themselves in good physical condition. Fatigue can impact judgment, coordination and reaction time, as well as accuracy.
  • Carry a whistle to signal a passerby in the event the hunter becomes immobile. Carrying a flashlight, compass, matches and tinder are also essential survival gear items to have.


Hunter Safety Awareness Harness Logo RGB

Archery hunters using a tree stand…

  • Should always use a fall-restraint device – preferably a full-body harness – when hunting from a tree stand. The device should be worn from the moment they leave the ground until they return. Don’t climb dead, wet or icy trees. Stay on the ground on blustery days. Remember: Hunt Safely. Wear a Harness.
  • Should use a haul rope to pull gear, including unloaded firearms and bows, to the tree stand from the ground once safely and properly positioned.
  • Should be prepared to self-rescue, should a fall occur. We recommend carrying a screw-in step or a relief strap so hunters can hang comfortably until they are rescued, or so they can rescue themselves.
  • Should practice climbing with his or her tree stand before dawn on the opening day of the season. Consider placing non-slip material on the deck if it’s not already there.
  • Should not sleep! Hunters should return to the ground if they experience fatigue while in the stand to prevent potential injury.


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In order to hunt ethically and legally, archery hunters…

  • May use long, recurve or compound bows, or crossbows. Bows must have a draw weight of at least 35 pounds; crossbows must have a minimum draw weight of 125 pounds.
  • May use illuminated nocks for arrows and bolts; however, transmitter-tracking arrows are illegal.
  • Must conspicuously mark tree stands placed on state game lands with a durable identification tag that identifies the stand owner. Tags may include the owner’s name and address, the CID number that’s on their hunting license or a unique identification issued by the Game Commission.
  • May not use tree stands and climbing devices that cause damage to trees and are unlawful to use or occupy unless the user has written permission from a landowner. It is unlawful to build or occupy tree stands screwed or nailed to trees on state game lands, state forests or state parks.
  • Are urged to take only responsible shots at deer to ensure a quick, clean kill. They should take only broadside or quartering away shots at deer within their maximum effective shooting range.

Related Information

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. Food availability changes from year to year, and in areas where food is spotty, deer move to find it. Hotspots change from one year to the next, even from early to later weeks of the season, so tracking deer activity and their keying on food sources is important to success.

Click here for information about archery season venison care.

Click here for information about hunting in a Disease Management Area (DMA).

What is a DMA?

To all our archery hunters heading afield on Saturday and beyond, we wish you the best for a successful, safe and fun 2018 archery season!

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