Can You Hunt Deer with a Rifle in Pennsylvania?

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Hunting with a rifle is the desire of every agile hunter but can you hunt deer with a rifle in Pennsylvania? At the moment, the Pennsylvania Game Commission is still adamant about allowing hunters to hunt deer using semi-automatic rifles. However, a group of hunters is still hopeful that their back and forth persuasion will soon bear positive results, and the commission will reconsider its stand.

What is the Minimum Caliber for Deer Hunting in Pennsylvania?

In the recent updates, the Pennsylvania Game Commission proposed to set a minimum caliber for hunting deer and bears. This proposal will see some popular rounds excluded from the list of rifles cleared for hunting. In this proposal, the minimum rifle for hunting deer and bear will be a .24 caliber rifle.  

In essence, if you are intending to go hunting in Pennsylvania, then you may not use a .222, .223, and .22-250 calibers. The argument was that these calibers are ethically unfit for hunting deer and bear. Specific rifles that were banned include the .17 calibers, .22 Hornet, and .204 Ruger.

These preliminary approvals may change soon upon future meetings. All hope is not lost for hunters who feel to disagree with these hunting decisions.

Can I Hunt Deer with a Gun in Pennsylvania?

Deer Hunting with a Pistol in Pennsylvania 

While hunting deer using semi-automatic rifles may still be a pending issue in PA, the hunting spree must continue. Some hunters using pistols would want to know what the 2018/19 firearms rule had in store about pistols in hunting deer.

You can lawfully use a pistol or a handgun when hunting deer in PA. Provided that you provide a Firearms Permit from Sportsman or acquire a Permit known as ‘License to Carry Firearms’. You can acquire the Sportsman’s Firearms Permit at the county treasurers. The second permit is available at the county’s police or from the chief of police of Philadelphia. 

Despite having a permit, you may not carry a covered or loaded handgun or pistol in a vehicle. 

It is, therefore, legal to hunt deer using centerfire pistols that fire single projectile ammo.

Hunting with AR 15 in Pennsylvania

AR 15 rifles were legalized in Pennsylvania in 2017 when semi-automatic rifles were an ideal choice for hunters then. Hunters never seemed to like the semi-automatic rifles then, as by a survey on 4,000 hunters

The Pennsylvania Gaming Commission found out that most hunters never wanted the guns. This might have informed the commission’s decision to scrape off the rifles from the hunting scenes.

The Commission’s other main concern against using semi-automatic rifles like AR 15 for deer hunting was safety concerns. The semi-automatic rifles could easily harm or kill a nearby human in the event the hunter missed their shots. This was likely to happen as most hunters are too focused on their game and overlook what’s beyond the target.

While others saw no need for AR 15 in the hunting arena, some had different thoughts. Those with different thoughts believed AR 15s are accurate, easy to operate. They believed that an ar15 would make one a proficient shooter after some time of use and experience. These lads saw no reason why the AR 15s were scrapped from the hunting arena.

Deer Hunting in Pennsylvania

Former Rifle Seasons and Legal Hunting Hours in Pennsylvania (PA)

Before clocking your full hunting gears and going all orange for camouflage against deer, you should be aware of the rifles’ seasons and the legal hunting hours in PA before the current stalemate. A rifle season is an open period when hunters could use their semi-automatic rifles for hunting deer. Whether for their antlers or meat, you need to avoid rubbing shoulders with the authorities.

In 2018, a rifle season ran from November 26th to the 8th of December. Mostly, the first five days are exclusively set aside for antlered deer hunting. The first Saturday of the season always ushers4t31 in the doe (antlerless deer) hunting season.

The legal hunting hours were spread between 6:33 am and 5:06 pm between November 25th and 1st of December. From December 2nd to 8th, hunting hours changed from 6:40 am to 5:06 pm.

What are the 2020-21 Deer Hunting/Trapping Seasons Approved Rules in PA?

There are guiding principles for the 2020-21 deer hunting and trapping seasons to guide hunters through the season’s end. Some of the issues concerning deer hunting include: 

  • Spreading Sunday hunting activities to three Sundays. The first Sunday, Nov 15th, is set aside for hunting deer through archery. Sunday, Nov 22nd left for hunting bears, and Sunday, Nov 29th for firearms deer hunting. 
  • According to bowhunters, the archery deer season extends to end on Nov 20. This gives hunters the opportunity to take advantage of the peak and after-rut activities.
  • Firearms deer sessions for antlerless and antlered deer will now be a 14-day concurrent firearms session in ten wildlife management units.
  • The board also agreed to allocate over 930,000 antlerless deer licenses all over the state. This is a wide increase from the previous 903,000 licenses issued for allocation in 2019/20. 
  • The board agreed they would be issuing 164 elk licenses. They comprise 128 antlerless and 36 antlered over three 2020-21 seasons. The licenses are as follows:

Nov 2nd to Nov 7th 

 Hunters will only to take down a total of 26 antlered and 78 antler less elks. 

Sept 12th to Sep 26th 

Hunters can hunt down ten antlered and 16 antler less elk if they are hunting in the archery season.

Jan 2nd to Jan 9th 

The remaining 34 licenses are for the remaining antler less elk hunting season between January 2nd and 9th

As a deer hunter in Pennsylvania, you may want to have a detailed look at the final 2020/21 hunting/trapping season approvals to better understand the hunting rules in place.

Final Verdict

The Pennsylvania Gaming Commission is doing all it can to develop ideal regulations that will see both human and wildlife needs are met. Safety is a key consideration in the process of crafting rules governing hunting in the region. You should make sure that you keep on toes with the laid regulations and procedures for a seamless hunting experience.

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