PENNSYLVANIA (WTAJ) – The Pennsylvania Board of Game commissioners has approved the 2023-24 hunting and trapping seasons as well as bag limits. They also noted that there are several changes that they have chosen to adopt.

Among the changes are several units being removed from the extended black bear season and the archery season for elks will be moved to a week later. They also noted that no changes were made to white-tail deer or wild-turkey seasons.

Modifications adopted for the 2023-24 seasons include:

  • For black bear, Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 1B, 2C, 4A, 4B and 4D were removed from the extended firearms black bear season because of declining nuisance complaints in these units.
  • For elk, the archery season will be a week later than in 2022-23 to provide additional time between the license drawing and the beginning of the season.
  • For furbearers, WMUs 3B and 4E have been opened to river otter trapping because habitat and population data indicate these units can support sustainable otter harvest.
  • For small game, there has been a significant expansion of opportunity for put-and-take hunting of captive-reared bobwhite quail in most of Pennsylvania, achieved through an earlier season opening date, later season closing date and removal of the daily bag limit. Also, adjustments to crow season dates and addition of Thursdays as hunting days were approved to shift hunting opportunity from the peak breeding season to the fall and winter months.
  • For falconry, an expansion of falconry opportunities, to include the period of overlap with the regular firearms deer season and the authorization of falconers to take certain furbearers were approved.
  • No substantive changes were made to white-tailed deer or wild turkey seasons, although the 2024 youth and regular spring turkey seasons will open five days later than in 2023 due to normal calendar fluctuation and the wild turkey management plan guideline of opening the regular season the Saturday closest to May 1. The seasons and bag limits adopted by the board would continue with a Saturday opener to the firearms deer season. License data demonstrates a positive change following the implementation of the Saturday opener. In particular, data shows the move to a Saturday opener was followed by increased license sales by hunters ages 18 to 34 and female hunters. The board also approved a measure that makes all mentored hunters, including mentored adults, eligible to participate in the October special firearms season for antlerless deer and bears.

The Game Commission also announced 1,095,000 antlerless deer licenses will be allocated statewide for 2023-24, which is up from the 948,000 licenses allocated for last season.

Meanwhile, 144 elk licenses (65 antlered, 79 antlerless) were allocated across three 2023-24 elk seasons. For the one-week general season to run Oct. 30-Nov. 4, 30 antlered and 42 antlerless tags have been allocated. In the archery season open only in select Elk Hunt Zones, to run from Sept. 16-30, 18 antlered and 8 antlerless licenses are available. And there are 17 antlered and 29 antlerless licenses available for the Dec. 30-Jan. 6 late season.

Antlerless licenses for 2023-24 go on sale alongside general licenses at 8 a.m. on Monday, June 26. Further information on the new antlerless license sales process is provided in a news release containing other highlights from today’s meeting.

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All elk licenses will be awarded by lottery, and hunters must apply separately for all seasons they wish to be eligible to hunt. Each application costs $11.97, meaning a hunter can enter all three drawings for $35.91. Individuals can be drawn for a maximum of one elk license per license year.

The deadline to apply is July 16.