Pheasant Season Begins in Pennsylvania This Saturday

With birds exploding from cover, roosters cackling and fast-paced hunts that require focus, Pennsylvania’s ring-necked pheasant season always packs excitement.

And this year, it packs more birds, too.

The statewide pheasant season opens Saturday, Oct. 22, and the Game Commission will be stocking about 235,000 pheasants – an increase from about 221,000 in the 2021-22 license year, said Ian Gregg, chief of the Game Commission’s Wildlife Operations Division.

“The majority of this year’s increase will be allocated to the late small game season, including the two after-Christmas releases, which proved extremely popular when initiated last year,” Gregg said.

All adult hunters and some senior hunters who pursue pheasants are required to purchase a pheasant permit in addition to a general hunting license. The permit costs $26.97 and must be signed and carried while hunting pheasants. Senior lifetime resident license holders who acquired their licenses prior to May 13, 2017 are exempt from needing a pheasant permit. Junior hunters and mentored permit holders under 17 need a free permit.

Although pheasant permit proceeds are not earmarked specifically for the propagation program, and do not completely offset the costs of raising and stocking pheasants, they are important in ensuring the financial sustainability of the program. Permit revenue for the 2021-22 license year exceeded $1.4 million.

“The popularity of pheasant hunting in Pennsylvania is reflected by the number of permits issued for adult and junior hunters, both showing increasing trends since 2018,” Gregg said.

Except for within the Central Susquehanna and Franklin County Wild Pheasant Recovery Areas, male and female pheasants are legal to harvest statewide. Although protecting hens is an important aspect of wild pheasant management, survival of propagated pheasants is too low to support sustainable populations, even without hunting mortality. While the Game Commission raise and releases pheasants at a ratio of around three males for every one female, the harvest of all pheasants is lawful and encouraged.

“With contributions from many members of the Game Commission team, the goals of increased pheasant production and additional releases in the agency’s 2020-23 strategic plan have been achieved,” said Gregg. “As a result, the stage is set for pheasant hunters across the Commonwealth to experience a memorable season.”