Bear Hunting Seasons in Pennsylvania

Archery Bear Hunting

  • Statewide: Oct. 14-Nov. 4
  • WMUs 2B, 5C & 5D: Sept. 16-Nov. 24
  • WMU 5B: Sept. 30-Nov. 17
  • Limit: Generally, one bear per license year.

Muzzleloader Bear Hunting

  • Statewide: Oct. 14-21

Special Firearms Bear Hunting

  • Statewide: Oct. 19-21
  • Eligibility: Open to junior and senior license holders, mentored license holders, active-duty military, and certain disabled persons’ permit holders.
  • Allowed Arms and Ammunition: Regular firearms and ammunition permitted during the regular firearms bear season can be used.

Regular Firearms Bear Hunting

  • Statewide: Nov. 18-21

Extended Bear Hunting Seasons

  • WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C & 5D: Nov. 25-Dec. 9
  • WMUs 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4C, 4E & 5A: Nov. 25-Dec. 2

These extended bear hunting seasons offer additional opportunities to hunt bears in specific wildlife management units (WMUs) during the designated time frames.

Arms & Ammunition for Bear Hunting in Pennsylvania

Allowed Firearms

  1. Manually operated centerfire rifles, handguns, and shotguns with all-lead bullet or ball, or a bullet designed to expand on impact (buckshot is illegal).
  2. Semiautomatic centerfire shotgun that propels single-projectile ammunition.
  3. Muzzleloading long guns of any type, .44 caliber or larger, or a muzzleloading handgun .50 caliber or larger, or an encapsulated propellant charge that loads from the breech, with the bullet loaded from the muzzle.
  4. Long, recurve, or compound bows (draw weights at least 35 pounds), or crossbows with a weight minimum of 125 pounds.

Broadhead Requirements

  • A broadhead is a fixed or mechanical tip affixed to the fore end of an arrow or bolt having sharpened cutting edges consisting of metal or naturally occurring stone.
  • The broadhead must have an outside diameter or width of at least 7/8 of an inch, and the length may not exceed 3.25 inches.

These regulations outline the types of firearms, bows, and broadheads allowed for bear hunting in Pennsylvania. Hunters should ensure they meet these requirements when participating in bear hunting seasons. Always check the most recent regulations from the Pennsylvania Game Commission for any updates or changes.

Tagging & Reporting for Bear Hunting in Pennsylvania

Tagging Requirements

A successful bear hunter must complete all information on the tag and attach it to the bear’s ear immediately after harvest and before the carcass is moved.

Reporting Requirements

Within 24 hours, each hunter who harvests a bear must have it checked by the Game Commission. Bear check stations are open on the first two days of the regular firearms bear season and on select days of the extended seasons. Hunters harvesting bears during the statewide archery, muzzleloader, or special firearms bear seasons, any early season in WMUs 2B, 5B, 5C & 5D, or on any date check stations aren’t open should contact the Centralized Dispatch Center at 1-833-PGC-HUNT or 1-833-PGC-WILD for instructions to have their bears checked.

What to Bring for Bear Check

  • Bears should be field-dressed before being brought to a check station, as Game Commission personnel do not need to examine reproductive tracts.
  • It’s also acceptable to bring only the tagged head and hide to the check station.
  • Hunters should bring their hunting license and bear license.

Remember that once you have used your bear tag, it is unlawful to possess it in the field. If you purchase a bear license online, you cannot hunt for bear until the physical license is delivered to you with a harvest tag. Always check the most recent regulations from the Pennsylvania Game Commission for any updates or changes.

Hunting Licenses in Pennsylvania

Overview

Hunting in Pennsylvania requires individuals to obtain specific licenses issued by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. These licenses are essential for regulating and managing hunting activities within the state. Below, we provide an overview of various hunting licenses available in Pennsylvania.

General Hunting License

The General Hunting License serves as the fundamental requirement for hunting in Pennsylvania. It grants hunters the authority to pursue a wide range of game species during their respective hunting seasons. This license is typically available for both residents and non-residents.

Junior Hunting License

The Junior Hunting License is specially designed for young hunters, usually those under the age of 16. This license allows young individuals to participate in hunting activities while under the supervision of a licensed adult mentor.

Bear License

A Bear License is required for hunters wishing to participate in bear hunting seasons. This license is in addition to the general hunting license and is available for residents and non-residents.

Archery License

The Archery License is necessary for individuals who want to hunt using bows and arrows during archery seasons. Hunters must possess this license, along with the general hunting license, to participate in archery hunting.

Muzzleloader License

The Muzzleloader License is essential for hunters who prefer to use muzzleloading firearms. It allows participation in muzzleloader-specific hunting seasons in addition to the general hunting license.

Special Firearm License

The Special Firearm License is available to specific groups, including junior and senior license holders, mentored license holders, active-duty military personnel, and certain disabled persons' permit holders. This license permits the use of certain firearms during designated hunting seasons.

Second Spring Gobbler License

Hunters who wish to harvest a second spring gobbler can purchase a Second Spring Gobbler License before the start of the regular spring turkey season. This license allows the harvest of up to two gobblers, with a limit of one turkey per day.

Additional Licenses and Permits

In addition to these licenses, various permits and additional tags may be required for hunting specific species or during particular seasons. It's essential to understand the regulations and license requirements for the type of hunting you plan to engage in.

License Application and Purchase

Hunting licenses in Pennsylvania can typically be purchased online through the Pennsylvania Game Commission's website, at authorized licensing agents, or at specific Game Commission offices. Hunters should ensure they have the appropriate licenses and permits before embarking on their hunting adventures.

Fluorescent Orange Requirements for Bear Hunting

When participating in bear hunting during firearms seasons, including the muzzleloader season, hunters in Pennsylvania are subject to specific fluorescent orange requirements for their safety and visibility. Here are the regulations regarding the use of fluorescent orange while bear hunting:

  • Fluorescent Orange Area: Bear hunters are required to wear at least 250 square inches of fluorescent orange material. This material should be distributed on the head, chest, and back areas combined. Importantly, it should be visible from all 360 degrees around the hunter.

  • Camouflage Fluorescent Orange: Hunters may use camouflage fluorescent orange to meet this regulation. However, it's essential to ensure that the total orange content on the clothing or gear is at least 250 square inches.

  • Archery Season Exemption: Hunters participating in bear hunting during the archery season are exempt from the fluorescent orange requirement. This exemption allows archery hunters to wear their regular hunting attire without the need for fluorescent orange.

Bear Hunting Restrictions in Pennsylvania

When participating in bear hunting in Pennsylvania, hunters must adhere to several important restrictions and regulations. These restrictions are put in place to ensure ethical and safe hunting practices. Here are some of the key restrictions for bear hunting in the state:

  • Killing in a Den: It is strictly prohibited to kill a bear while it is inside its den. This regulation aims to protect bears during their hibernation period.

  • Use of Radios: Hunters are not allowed to use radios for the purpose of locating bears to which a radio transmitter has been attached. This regulation helps maintain fair and ethical hunting practices.

  • Baited Areas: Hunting on areas where artificial or natural bait, hay, grain, fruit, nuts, salt, chemicals, minerals, or other foods have been used as an enticement to lure wildlife within the past 30 days is illegal. This regulation prevents the unfair advantage of hunting in baited areas.

  • Scents and Lures: The use of scents or lures to attract bears is prohibited during bear hunting. This restriction ensures that bears are not attracted to hunting locations through artificial means.

  • Hunting Party Size: Bear hunting in a party of more than 25 persons is not allowed. This limitation helps maintain orderly and safe hunting practices while preventing overcrowding in hunting areas.

Bear Feeding Ban in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has implemented strict regulations regarding the feeding of bears to ensure the safety of both bears and humans. Here are the important details regarding the bear feeding ban in the state:

  • Prohibited Activities: It is unlawful to intentionally lay or place food, fruit, hay, grain, chemicals, salt, or other minerals in a manner that may cause bears to congregate or habituate in a particular area. This regulation is in place to prevent bears from becoming dependent on unnatural food sources and potentially causing conflicts with humans.

  • Nuisance Bear Attraction: If wildlife feeding activities, other than bear feeding, are attracting nuisance bears to an area, game wardens have the authority to issue a written notice to temporarily halt the activity. This measure helps prevent situations where other wildlife feeding inadvertently leads to the presence of bears, which could pose risks to both bears and the public.

How to Check Your Bear in Pennsylvania

Checking your harvested bear is an important step in the hunting process in Pennsylvania. Here's how you can check your bear in the state:

  • Bear Check Stations: Bear check stations are established by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and are typically open on specific days during the early bear seasons (archery, muzzleloader, and special firearms), the regular firearms season, and the extended season. A list of these check stations is provided in the hunting regulations.

  • Regular Firearms Season: During the regular firearms season, check stations are open only on Saturday, Nov. 18, and Sunday, Nov. 19, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

  • Contact Centralized Dispatch Center: If you harvest a bear during a time when check stations are not open, you can call the Game Commission's Centralized Dispatch Center to make arrangements to have your bear checked. They can provide you with guidance on the process.

Pennsylvania Bear Hunting Laws & Regulations

Prepping for Your Bear Check in Pennsylvania

If you're a successful bear hunter in Pennsylvania and you plan to have your bear checked, it's essential to take some preparatory steps to ensure a smooth process:

  1. Insert a Stick into the Bear's Mouth: At the time of the harvest, place a 3- to 4-inch stick into the bear's mouth. This should be done before rigor mortis or freezing temperatures set in. Doing so makes it much easier to open the bear's mouth later for the purpose of removing a tooth for aging when you bring the bear in for the check.

Taking this simple step can help streamline the bear check process and contribute to the accurate assessment of the bear's age, which is valuable information for bear management in Pennsylvania.

Regular Firearms Season: Check Stations Schedule and Locations

Check Station Schedule:

  • Dates: Saturday, Nov. 18 and Sunday, Nov. 19
  • Time: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Contact Information:

  • Call 1-833-PGC-HUNT (1-833-742-4868) or 1-833-PGC-WILD (1-833-742-9453) for inquiries.

Centralized Dispatch Center:

  • Location: Southcentral Region

Southcentral Region:

  • Fulton County: Buchanan State Forest Building, 0.1 mile north of Rt. 30 on Rt. 915, east of Breezewood. Coordinates: 40.019519 N, 78.159104 W
  • Huntingdon County: SGL 322 Building, 8877 Petersburg Pike, Petersburg. Coordinates: 40.5505 N, 78.0065 W

Northeast Region:

  • Carbon County: SGL 141 Maintenance Building, 526 Behrens Road, Jim Thorpe. Coordinates: 40.9411 N, 75.6722 W
  • Lackawanna County: Fleetville Fire Company, 58 Firehouse Lane, Fleetville. Coordinates: 41.59608 N, 75.71673 W
  • Luzerne County: Northeast Region Office, 3917 Memorial Highway, Dallas. Coordinates: 41.342975 N, 75.991387 W
  • Monroe County: SGL 127 Building, Rt. 423, south of Tobyhanna. Coordinates: 41.168317 N, 75.439614 W
  • Pike County: SGL 180 Shohola Building, Rt. 6 at Shohola Falls, south of Hawley. Coordinates: 41.3862 N, 74.9758 W
  • Sullivan County: DCNR Loyalsock State Forest Resource Management Center, 6735 Rt. 220, south of Dushore. Coordinates: 41.439228 N, 76.4646 W

Southeast Region:

  • Berks County: Southeast Region Office, 253 Snyder Road, north of Reading. Coordinates: 40.440840 N, 75.911236 W
  • Dauphin County: Game Commission Headquarters, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg. Coordinates: 40.2934 N, 76.8553 W

Northwest Region:

  • Clarion County: Farmington Township Volunteer Fire Company, 6785 State Route 36, Leeper. Coordinates: 41.3706077 N, 79.3049949 W
  • Jefferson County: Friendship Hose Company #1, Interstate 80, Exit 97, Rt. 830 W, Falls Creek. Coordinates: 41.1458166 N, 78.7985611 W
  • Venango County: Northwest Region Office, 1509 Pittsburgh Road, Franklin. Coordinates: 41.36734 N, 79.859747 W
  • Warren County: Tidioute Borough Fire Hall, 228 Main Street, Tidioute. Coordinates: 41.68278 N, 79.40444 W

Southwest Region:

  • Indiana County: Homer City Fire Department, 25 West Church Street, Homer City. Coordinates: 40.54189 N, 79.16193 W
  • Somerset County: New Centerville Rural Fire Dept., Rt. 281, New Centerville. Coordinates: 39.9420 N, 79.1950 W
  • Westmoreland County: Southwest Region Office, Rt. 711, Bolivar. Coordinates: 40.3140 N, 79.1480 W

Northcentral Region:

  • Centre County: DCNR Penn Nursery, 137 Penn Nursery Road, Spring Mills. Coordinates: 40.7778230 N, 77.6137813 W
  • Clearfield County: PGC Maintenance Building, 4728 Quehanna Highway, Karthaus. Coordinates: 41.1901 N, 78.14594 W
  • Clinton County: Chapman Twp. Fire Hall, south of Renovo on Rt. 120 in North Bend. Coordinates: 41.34861 N, 77.70038 W
  • Lycoming County: Northcentral Region Office, 1566 S. Rt. 44 Hwy., Jersey Shore and Trout Run Fire Hall, Rt. 14. Coordinates: 41.1911 N, 77.2315 W and 41.38587 N, 77.05572 W
  • McKean County: Mt. Jewett Fire Hall on U.S. Rt. 6. Coordinates: 41.7241 N, 78.64347 W
  • Potter County: Coudersport Fire Hall on U.S. Rt. 6, west of town. Coordinates: 41.76788 N, 78.02842 W
  • Tioga County: Wellsboro Fire Company Social Building, U.S. Rt. 6 in center of town. Coordinates: 41.7495961 N, 77.2967266 W

List of Early Season Check Stations

Northwest Region Check Stations

  1. Jefferson County: SGL 244 Habitat management building, 103 McPherson Lane, Brookville - 41.11181 N, 78.96329 W
  2. Venango County: Northwest Region Office, 1509 Pittsburgh Road, Franklin - 41.36734 N, 79.859747 W
  3. Warren County: SGL 143 Building, 375 Moore Lane, Pittsfield - 41.823172 N, 079.435473 W

Southwest Region Check Stations

  1. Indiana County: SGL 248 Maintenance Building, 469 Chestnut Ridge Road in Penn Run - 40.60891 N, 79.07144 W
  2. Somerset County: SGL 50 Maintenance Building, 774 Berlin Plank Road in Somerset - 39.98989 N, 79.05081 W
  3. Westmoreland County: Southwest Region Office

Northcentral Region Check Stations

  1. Clearfield County: PGC Maintenance Building, 4728 Quehanna Highway, Karthaus - 41.1901 N, 78.14594 W
  2. Lycoming County: Northcentral Region Office, 1566 S. Rt. 44 Hwy., Jersey Shore - 41.1911 N, 77.2315 W
  3. Tioga County: SGL 208 Headquarters Building, 1749 Rt. 349, Gaines - 41.8007 N, 77.5721 W

Southcentral Region Check Stations

  1. Fulton County: Buchanan State Forest Building, 0.1 mile north of Rt. 30 on Rt. 915, east of Breezewood - 40.019519 N, 78.159104 W
  2. Huntingdon County: SGL 322 Building, 8877 Petersburg Pike, Petersburg - 40.5505 N, 78.0065 W

Northeast Region Check Stations

  1. Carbon County: SGL 141 Maintenance Building, 526 Behrens Road, Jim Thorpe - 40.9411 N, 75.6722 W
  2. Lackawanna County: Fleetville Fire Company, 58 Firehouse Lane, Fleetville - 41.59608 N, 75.71673 W
  3. Luzerne County: Northeast Region Office, 3917 Memorial Highway, Dallas - 41.342975 N, 75.991387 W
  4. Monroe County: SGL 127 Building, Rt. 423, south of Tobyhanna - 41.168317 N, 75.439614 W
  5. Pike County: SGL 180 Shohola Building, Rt. 6 at Shohola Falls, south of Hawley - 41.3862 N, 74.9758 W
  6. Sullivan County: DCNR Loyalsock State Forest Resource Management Center, 6735 Rt. 220, south of Dushore - 41.439228 N, 76.4646 W

Southeast Region Check Stations

  1. Berks County: Southeast Region Office

Pennsylvania's Big Game Scoring Program Overview

Program Highlights:

  • Purpose: To record the largest deer, bear, and elk harvested in Pennsylvania.
  • Recognition: Hunters with entries in the record book can purchase an exclusive member Big Game Records patch.

Patches:

  • Price: $9.43, plus $2.95 shipping and applicable sales tax.
  • Usage of Funds: Proceeds support the state's Big Game Scoring Program.

How to Order:

2023 Records Book:

  • Availability: October 2023.
  • Cost: $10, plus $2.95 shipping and 6 percent sales tax.

Entry and Contact Information:

  • Entry: For entering a big game animal into the program.
  • More Information: Contact Boone & Crockett Club certified scorer and coordinator, Bob D'Angelo.
  • Email: rdangelo@pa.gov
  • Phone: Contact the Game Commission Harrisburg Headquarters (contact details to be completed).

This program is a significant initiative to document and celebrate the achievements of hunters in Pennsylvania. It provides a platform for recognition and contributes to the state's wildlife management efforts through the funds raised from patch sales.

Extended Firearms Season Check Stations Overview

Northcentral Region

  • Lycoming County: Northcentral Region Office, 1566 S. Rt. 44 Hwy., Jersey Shore - 41.1911 N, 77.2315 W. Open Saturday 11/25 & Sunday 11/26 (Noon-7 p.m.), Monday-Friday 11/27-12/1 (8 a.m.-7 p.m.), and Saturday 12/2 (Noon-7 p.m.).
  • Tioga County: SGL 208 Headquarters Building, 1749 Rt. 349, Gaines - 41.8007 N, 77.5721 W. Open Saturday 11/25 & Sunday 11/26, and Saturday 12/2 (Noon-7 p.m.).

Southcentral Region

  • Huntingdon County: SGL 322 Building. Open Saturday 11/25 & Sunday 11/26, and Saturday 12/2 (Noon-7 p.m.).

Northeast Region

  • Carbon County: SGL 141 Maintenance Building. Open Saturday 11/25 & Sunday 11/26, and Saturday 12/2 (Noon-7 p.m.).
  • Lackawanna County: Fleetville Fire Company. Open Saturday through Saturday 11/25-12/2 (Noon-7 p.m.).

Bear Check Stations (Northeast Region Continued)

  • Luzerne County: Northeast Region Office. Open Saturday 11/25 & Sunday 11/26 (Noon-7 p.m.), Monday-Friday 11/27-12/1 (8 a.m.-7 p.m.), and Saturday 12/2 (Noon-7 p.m.).
  • Monroe County: SGL 127 Building. Open Saturday 11/25 & Sunday 11/26, and Saturday 12/2 (Noon-7 p.m.).
  • Pike County: SGL 180 Shohola Building. Open Saturday 11/25 & Sunday 11/26, and Saturday 12/2 (Noon-7 p.m.).
  • Sullivan County: DCNR Loyalsock State Forest Resource Management Center. Open Saturday 11/25 & Sunday 11/26, and Saturday 12/2 (Noon-7 p.m.).

Southeast Region

  • Berks County: Southeast Region Office. Open Saturday 11/25 & Sunday 11/26 (Noon-7 p.m.), Monday-Friday 11/27-12/1 (8 a.m.-4 p.m.), and Saturday 12/2 (Noon-7 p.m.).
  • Dauphin County: Game Commission Headquarters. Open Saturday 11/25 & Sunday 11/26 (Noon-7 p.m.), Monday-Friday 11/27-12/1 (8 a.m.-7 p.m.), and Saturday 12/2 (Noon-7 p.m.).

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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.