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Pa. Game Commission adjusts seasons, limits

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners gave preliminary approval to the 2023-2024 hunting and trapping seasons and bag limits Feb. 19.

Modifications proposed for the 2023-2024 seasons include:

• For elk, the proposed archery season would be a week later than in 2022-23 to provide additional time between the license drawing and the beginning of the season.

• For small game, a significant expansion of opportunity for put-and-take hunting of captive-reared bobwhite quail in most of Pennsylvania is proposed 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 are proposed to shift hunting opportunity from the peak breeding season to the fall and winter months.

• No substantive changes are proposed for white-tailed deer or wild turkey seasons, although the 2024 youth and regular spring turkey seasons are proposed to open five days later than in 2023 because of 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 preliminarily approved by the board would continue with a Saturday opener to the firearms deer season.

Before their vote, the board reviewed recent license data showing a positive change following the implementation of the Saturday opener. In particular, the license data showed that the move to a Saturday opener was followed by increased license sales by hunters ages 18 to 34 and female hunters. The board will vote to finalize the 2023-24 season dates, including those for the firearms deer season, at its upcoming meeting on April 15.

The board also preliminarily approved a measure that would make all mentored hunters, including mentored adults, eligible to participate in the October special firearms season for antlerless deer and bears.

The public may offer comments on all proposed 2023-24 seasons and bag limits, as well as other board actions, between now and the board’s April meeting, when 2023-24 seasons and bag limits will be finalized, and antlerless deer license allocations will be determined.

The board will meet April 14 and 15 at the Game Commission’s Harrisburg headquarters.