All any hunter can ask for is opportunity. The opportunity to get afield, the opportunity to look for game, the opportunity to perhaps fill a tag.
Pennsylvania’s upcoming archery deer season offers all of that over the span of nearly two months.
But then, that’s no secret. Lots of hunters – more than 330,000 annually – realize its potential and take to the woods, bow in hand.
The 2022-23 statewide archery season runs from Oct. 1 to Nov. 12, continues on Sunday, Nov. 13, then goes from Nov. 14 to 18. It comes back in from Dec. 26 to Jan. 16, 2023.
Archers pursuing whitetails in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 2B and 5C and 5D, around Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, respectively, can start hunting two weeks sooner, get an additional Sunday and can go later into 2023. Archery season in those WMUs runs from Sept. 17 to Nov. 12, continues on Sunday, Nov. 13, goes Nov. 14 to 19, continues on a second Sunday, Nov. 20, and goes from Nov. 21 to 25. It comes back in on Dec. 26 and goes through Jan. 28, 2023.
“Pennsylvania’s archery deer season is an amazing time to be afield,” said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “With autumn’s vibrant colors and increasingly cooler temperatures serving as the backdrop, the season gives hunters the chance to chase whitetails before, during and after the peak of the rut. It’s clear hunters appreciate that opportunity and are taking advantage of it.”
Indeed, resident archery license sales hit an all-time high in 2020 and – while dropping slightly from that peak – still reached 341,885 in 2021. That’s the second-highest sales total of the last dozen years.
Non-resident archery license sales mirror that trend, with 2021’s total of 19,099 trailing only 2020’s record of 19,164.
Those aren’t the only archers in the woods either. Holders of junior and senior lifetime combination licenses can likewise participate in archery season and, with senior combo licenses at record levels, an untold number surely do.
Opportunity surely has something to do with that. The Game Commission added a seventh week to the statewide archery season in 2020, providing more flexibility and a chance to hunt deeper into the whitetail breeding season. Hunters will enjoy that extra time again this year.
Last season, hunters harvested an estimated 130,650 deer in the archery season (68,580 antlered, 62,070 antlerless). Week one was the most productive for antlerless deer, weeks five and six tops for antlered deer.
That archery harvest is important to deer management statewide, in all WMUS, without being too large, said David Stainbrook, Deer and Elk Section Chief for the Game Commission. He pointed out that many archers also are rifle hunters. If they take a deer in archery season, they’re just taking advantage of the seasons available and filling their tags earlier in fall.
“We continually monitor our deer harvest to ensure that our goals and objectives are still being met in each WMU,” Stainbrook said.
Opportunity doesn’t automatically equate to success, though, so to help hunters get the most from archery season, the Game Commission is offering some reminders and tips.
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.