Pennsylvania may make a major deer regulation change for the 2021 season.
Hunters in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania could see a major change for the 2021 seasons that would effectively lift the limit of three antlerless deer licenses per hunter.
The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners announced the proposed changes in a press release on the Game Commission's website. The board gave preliminary approval to the measure at a meeting on January 23.
According to the PGC, the idea is to streamline the process a bit by making the rules apply statewide. Some things, like the July start of the application process for antlerless licenses through county treasurers will remain the same.
"Application would follow the same schedule where residents, and later nonresidents, are permitted to apply for a license in the opening round, and in each of two successive rounds for any Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) where licenses remain," the PGC's press release states. "Then in early September, over-the-counter sales would begin, and hunters could pick up a fourth antlerless license in any WMU where licenses remain, either by going to a county treasurer's office to purchase the license or sending an application by mail."
The way things were worded was slightly confusing to some hunters. Some headlines incorrectly worded it as "unlimited" antlerless tags, which is not entirely accurate. Basically, the rule change would mean that there would be no limit on the number of antlerless licenses one hunter can buy over the course of the season, so long as they are filling tags and while licenses remain available in a WMU. A hunter can hold up to four antlerless tags at one time, but hunters must harvest an antlerless deer and report it before they can buy more tags past that four license limit. The PGC gave an example of how it would work in their press release.
"A hunter without an antlerless deer license could purchase four licenses at a time over the counter; a hunter with two unfilled licenses could purchase two at a time," the release reads.
Obviously, not every area of the state is the same when it comes to deer populations. That's why the PGC says they want to move to this model that eliminates the three tag limit. They cite WMUs 4A and 2A, which in 2020, saw 16,000 antlerless licenses left over in the middle part of November. By removing the limit of three licenses, the PGC says it will be easier to make sure the maximum number of available licenses are allocated.
The news of this proposed rule change was met with obviously mixed reactions online with some hunters in more populated urban areas praising the rule and others claiming it would effectively wipe the herd out.
It appears the proposal has support with PGC commissioners. However, the idea is not set in stone yet. The proposal will come down to a final vote at April's PGC meeting before it takes effect.