Pennsylvania Game Commission January Meeting Notes – Digital Licenses, Unlimited Antlerless Tags?, and more Sunday Hunting on the Horizon!

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners held their first meeting of the year virtually earlier today and heard comments from PGC staff biologists and specialists before considering each item on the agenda. Ultimately, the Commission voted to pass each of the enumerated agenda items, and while I will not cover them all here, there are a few notable items:

Digital Licenses

The Board voted to amend the Pa. Code to authorize and define the use of a digital eLicense system for hunting and furtaking licenses and some limited permits like range permits, mentored permits, etc. Notably, harvest tags will still only be issued in physical form, by mail if purchased online or at an agent location. Products eligible for the eLicense system when purchased at an agent location can also be provided digitally in addition to the physical print, when an email is provided.

Under the newly amended code it will be lawful to only possess a digital version of your license on a mobile device provided that it capable of immediate retrieval and clear display to ensure readability (including QR or bar codes). Failure to retrieve or produce the digital license under circumstances where necessary will constitute a license violation. Tips: Download a copy before going into the field so you aren’t relying on a spotty internet connection, carry some type of portable charger or power bank to make sure your battery doesn’t die, and keep a printed copy in your bag just in case.

Unlimited Antlerless Licenses Within WMU Allocation

The Board also voted to amend the code to allow for hunters to purchase an unlimited number of antlerless deer licenses beginning on the second Monday in September in any WMU where there remains an unsold supply of antlerless licenses. Some Commissioners did express concern for the confusion that the term “unlimited” has caused. Each WMU’s allocation will remain the same, but hunters will not be limited in the number of antlerless licenses they can purchase as long as there are remaining un-allocated licenses in the WMU. This creates a theoretically “unlimited” personal bag limit for any individual hunter, as long as there is a remaining allocation in any given WMU. Hunters will be limited to possessing no more than (4) unfilled antlerless licenses at any given time and will be required to exhaust one and report the harvest before purchasing a new license. This procedure was currently in place in a limited number of WMU’s but is being expanded to be effective statewide.

Small Game Sunday Hunting

In setting the season dates for the upcoming year the Board also voted to open the existing Sunday hunting opportunities to new small game and furbearer species including: Squirrel, Ruffed Grouse, Cotton Tail Rabbit, Ring-necked Pheasant, Bobwhite Quail, Woodchuck, Opossum, Striped Skunk, Weasel, Raccoon, and Porcupine. Importantly, theses species are not open to hunting on all Sundays, only on the specifically delineated Sundays that have been included into the big game seasons. This has no impact on certain other species which were already open to unlimited Sunday hunting within their applicable seasons and regulations, such as Coyote, Crow, and Fox.

Other adopted agenda items include: setting a statewide concurrent 14-day antlered and antlerless firearms deer season in order to simplify regulations and increase hunting opportunities. As well as reducing the length of fall turkey seasons in 14 WMUs and closing the season in 1 WMU and removing rifles from the list of permitted weapons for fall turkey season, in the interest of reversing an unsustainable decline in wild turkey populations. The Commission found that despite only 14% of fall turkey hunters using rifles, and the majority of them were doing so in the pursuit of other game, only shooting turkey opportunistically, rifles accounted for 33% of the statewide fall turkey harvest.

Contact us today if you have a legal issue or question connected to game law or regulation and want to discuss your rights or responsibilities.

Click here if you want to review the entire Agenda for the Board Meeting, or find a link to the PGC YouTube channel, to which a recording of the full meeting will be posted sometime next week.

2 thoughts on “Pennsylvania Game Commission January Meeting Notes – Digital Licenses, Unlimited Antlerless Tags?, and more Sunday Hunting on the Horizon!

  1. Real nice to cut the turkey season but as usual the Comm. didn’t take away the second turkey tax.
    Maybe they need another stupid study as usual or hire 6 more biologist when they are in dire straights.
    they’ve hired 12 biologist since the beginning of the dire straights near 20 years ago.
    Roxann Palone who used to be a commisioner told me the first group was in the budget. Was the pension in the budget for all of these people? No. We just keep paying for crap that’s already been studied and pensions. Behind the Blairsville Westinghouse there’s a one mile square of open land that the Comm. stocks with ringnecks. One day when we were there they actually put in a whopping 6 birds. what a bunch of crap.


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