Recently, a fellow hunter and I were meandering along an old logging road intent on setting up a treestand on a ridgeline deep in the northwoods of Pennsylvania. Our hope was to find the ever-elusive dominant whitetail buck, nicknamed “King Kickback” for the one “kicker” antler which protruded from his left G3 tine. The King appeared like a ghost on trailcams across his property. With a massive rack we estimated as scoring well above 140, our hopes were high that our target area would be part of his dominion.
The conversation soon turned to individual firearm rights which we all know are seriously under attack in our United States. Specifically, we were discussing whether a lawful handgun owner with a license to carry a concealed weapon may carry his handgun while archery hunting. My friend had been advised by a local law enforcement official that he would be in violation of the Game and Wildlife Code should he be found in possession of a firearm while archery hunting.
The Game and Wildlife Code regulations pertaining to archery hunting specifically prohibit the use or possession of a firearm while hunting deer during the archery deer season. 58 Pa. Code §141.43(a)(2)(i). However, two exceptions exist to to this prohibition. The first exception to this rule is the use of a muzzleloader during the overlap of the early and late muzzleloading seasons when the hunter has both a valid archery and muzzleloading license. 58 Pa. Code §141.43(a)(2)(i)(B). The other exception to this prohibition is that a hunter may may indeed possess certain firearms pursuant to the authorization of 34 Pa. Code §2525. 58 Pa. Code §141.43(a)(2)(i)(B). This section states that it is lawful for a law enforcement officer or any person who possesses a valid license to carry a firearm issued under 18 Pa. C.S. §6109 (relating to licensing to carry a firearm) to be in possession of a loaded or unloaded firearm while engaged in any activity regulated by the Game and Wildlife Code – including archery hunting.
As firearms attorneys, we dedicate our practice to zeolously defending and prosecuting the rights of our clients, but also, we take pride in educating the public and, at times, law enforcement officials as to the interpretation of firearms laws of the Commonwealth and this Nation. I was happy to call the official in question and refer him to the section of the law cited above. After our discussion, he offered an apology and thanked me for providing the correct information. He also wished us the best of luck in our quest for the King!
By Tom Beveridge
Firearms Industry Consulting Group
Prince Law Offices, PC