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The Ultimate 2024 Pennsylvania Hunting Guide: Explore the Majestic Wildlife of the Keystone State

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No state build on the rich history of hunting quite like Pennsylvania. The Keystone state is not only one of

the most historic areas of the United States for our country, but is also home to hunting traditions with roots that go back centuries.

In fact, hunting is part of PA’s very core, culture and identity. According to the PA game commission, there were over 850’000 hunting licenses sold in 2021, an absolutely wild number that vastly outdoes almost every other state (Wisconsin coming in first. Packers fans really have to ruin everything.)

It’s not for no reason that hunting is so popular in PA. The state’s abundant wildlife, diverse terrain, and strong conservation efforts help create one of the strongest hunting locations in the country. In Pennsylvania, hunting isn’t just a sport to entertain it’s inhabitants but holds a vital role in wildlife management.

Hunting revenue is used to fund research, habitat management, and a wide array of other conservation programs allowing nature to flourish for many generations to come.

In this guide, we’ll collect all the necessary information you need to know about Pennsylvania hunting, including seasons, licensing information, locations, wildlife, and available resources. If you’re looking for a specific section, feel free to skip ahead using the table of contents below.

Autumn at Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania
Ricketts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania

When is the PA Hunting Season?

The hunting season in Pennsylvania is an exciting time for hunters across the state. It typically runs from late September to early February and is broken down into several different seasons based on the type of game being hunted.

For example, the archery deer season typically begins in early October and runs through November, while the firearms deer season runs for two weeks in late November and early December. Other seasons include small game such as squirrels and rabbits, as well as bear and turkey hunting seasons.

Below are the exact dates for the 2024 season.

Red deer stag in morning autumn mist


  • Archery season: October 2 – November 12, November 15 – January 23
  • Muzzleloader season: October 16-23
  • Rifle season: November 27 – December 11
  • Late flintlock season: December 27 – January 14

Black Bear:

  • Archery season: October 2 – November 12, November 15 – 20
  • Muzzleloader season: October 16-23
  • Rifle season: November 22 – 24

Wild Turkey:

Snowshoe hare, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska
  • Fall season: October 30 – November 5
  • Spring season: April 30 – May 31

Small Game:

  • Squirrel season: September 11 – February 5
  • Ruffed grouse season: October 16 – November 27, December 13 – 24
  • Snowshoe hare season: October 16 – December 24


  • Regular season: October 16 – November 26, December 14 – January 29
  • Youth waterfowl hunting day: October 9
  • Early resident Canada goose season: September 1-25

Best Pennsylvania Hunting Locations

Pennsylvania has a vast variety of locations and wildlife to choose from depending on which kind of hunter you are. Below, we have collected our favorite hunting regions based on which wildlife you can expect to find.

Allegheny National Forest

Nestled within the Appalachian Mountains, Allegheny National Forest is a paradise for hunters with its picturesque scenery and diverse wildlife. The forest is also famous for its vast array of majestic trees, including oak, maple, and white pine, which offer a stunning backdrop while hunting.

Allegheny National Forest has a rich hunting history that dates back to the 19th century when it was a vital source of sustenance for Native American tribes. Today, the area continues to be a popular hunting destination for novice and experienced hunters alike. In 1945, the area was officially designated a national park by President Franklin D Roosevelt, cementing its status as one of Pennsylvania’s premier hunting locations.

Whether you’re looking to hunt small game or big game, Allegheny National Forest truly provides an experience like no other. The forest is home to a wide variety of game, including white-tailed deer, black bear, and wild turkey. Hunting in the forest also provides opportunities to view other wildlife in their natural habitat, such as bald eagles and river otters.

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Susquehanna River Valley

The Susquehanna River Valley is a stunning landscape of rolling hills and forests that offer breathtaking views and an abundance of wildlife. This area has long been a draw for hunters seeking out small game such as foxes, beavers, muskrats and raccoons.

The history of hunting in the Valley dates back to the early days of colonial America. In 1755, William Penn established his first settlement here, which would eventually become the state capital. Over time, settlers began to flood into this part of Pennsylvania and the practice of hunting in Susquehanna River Valley was quickly adopted by these settlers as well as by Native Americans who had lived there for centuries prior.

Today, hunters continue to flock to this region in search of plentiful games and unforgettable experiences amongst its scenic beauty.

Pine Creek Valley

In the north, Pine Creek Valley is quickly becoming one of the most popular destinations for hunters, and with good reason. This charming valley offers breathtaking scenery, stunning creeks, and a wide variety of wildlife including wild turkey, grouse, foxes, and even the occasional bear.

The history of hunting here dates back to colonial times when Native American tribes first used this region as a source for sustenance. Later it would become an area of great commercial importance with canals and railroads being built to take advantage of its natural resources.

Today Pine Creek Valley remains a prime destination for hunters who appreciate its picturesque beauty and abundance of game. If you’re really lucky, some bald eagles might even join your hunt.

Not to be dramatic, but sometimes it truly feels like the very core and spirit of America is resting in the valley’s beautiful nature.

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Upper Delaware River

Home to wild turkeys, ruffed grouse, pheasants, and woodcock, the Upper Delaware River also serves as an angler’s paradise that has long been a draw for hunters and fishermen alike. Here, you can find a variety of fish species such as bass, carp, and catfish – not to mention plenty of ducks, geese, and other migratory birds. You may even be lucky enough to spot a deer or two!

The history of hunting in this region runs deep. Native Americans believed this area to be spiritual and were the first to hunt here for centuries. Later, settlers would come to establish towns along the riverbanks and continue the practice of hunting in the area.

Today, the Upper Delaware River remains a haven for those looking for a classic hunting experience in unspoiled nature. Whether you’re after a peaceful day out with some fishing or some more exciting game – you can find it here.

Elk County

Elk County is a prime destination for hunters seeking trophy games. With a large population of elk, deer, black bear, and wild turkey – it is one of the most exciting locations in the state when it comes to big game hunting. The county also boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in the state with lush forests and cascading waterfalls.

The history of hunting in this region goes back centuries to the days when Native American tribes hunted here for subsistence. Later, settlers would come to establish townships and continue the practice with increased enthusiasm – an enthusiasm that has never, and will never, go away.

Today, Elk County remains an integral part of Pennsylvania’s hunting heritage with plenty of opportunities for those looking for adventure and quality trophies.

Bull Elk Portrait

PA Hunting Licenses

Hunting licenses are required for anyone who wishes to hunt in Pennsylvania and is a crucial way to ensure hunter safety, nature conservation, and wildlife regulation. To make it easy for you, we’ve collected the most frequently asked questions regarding PA hunting licenses below.

pennsylvania hunting card

How to Obtain a PA Hunting License

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is responsible for issuing hunting licenses, and licenses can be obtained through the commission’s website, a licensing agent, or by mail. Hunters can choose from a variety of license types, including general hunting licenses, archery licenses, muzzleloader licenses, and special permits for specific species.

When do PA Hunting Licenses go on sale?

Hunting licenses in Pennsylvania typically go on sale in June of each year and are valid from July 1 of that year through June 30 of the following year. Hunters are encouraged to purchase their licenses early to ensure that they receive them in time for the start of the hunting season.

What are the PA Hunting License Requirements?

To obtain a hunting license in Pennsylvania, hunters must meet certain requirements. They must be at least 11 years old and have successfully completed a hunter education course, which you can sign up for here for in-person classes, or here for online (in-person recommended!). Courses are fairly easy and will run you about $35.

Hunters must also provide their social security number or a valid driver’s license number when applying for a license.

How much is a PA Hunting License?

The cost of a Pennsylvania hunting license varies depending on the type of license and the hunter’s age and residency status. A standard adult resident license costs $21.90.


father pointing and guiding son on first deer hunt

Resident Adult Hunting License (ages 17-64): $21.90

Resident Senior Hunting License (ages 65 and up): $11.90

Resident Junior Hunting License (ages 12-16): $6.90

Resident Trapper License: $21.90

Resident Archery License: $15.90

Resident Muzzleloader License: $15.90

Resident Antlerless Deer License: $6.97


Non-Resident Adult Hunting License (ages 17-64): $101.90

Non-Resident Junior Hunting License (ages 12-16): $41.90

Non-Resident 3-Day Small Game Hunting License: $26.90

Non-Resident Migratory Game Bird License: $9.90

How easy is it to obtain a PA Hunting License?

Compared to other states, obtaining a hunting license in Pennsylvania is a very intuitive straightforward process. If you meet the requirements and order early, you should have no problem getting out into the wild!


If you’re a hunter in Pennsylvania, there are many resources available to you both online and offline. One of the best places to start is the Pennsylvania Game Commission website, which has a wealth of information on hunting regulations, licenses, and safety tips.

They also offer an online mapping tool to help you find public hunting land in the state, which we really recommend taking advantage of.

Another great resource is the Pennsylvania Hunting & Fishing Digest, which is published annually by the Game Commission and contains all the latest hunting and fishing regulations, as well as other important information.

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Hunter handsome guy with weapon. Hunter spend leisure hunting. Hunting equipment. Brutal masculine hobby. Man observing nature background. Hunter hold rifle. Safety measures. Natural environment.

There are also many hunting forums and online communities that can be great sources of information and support. A wonderful forum to get started with is the HuntingPA, which is constantly being updated with news, stories, and tales of the wild.

In terms of the hunting community in Pennsylvania, it’s a strong and passionate group of people who take their sport seriously. Many hunters in the state come from families with long traditions of hunting, and it’s not uncommon to see multi-generational hunting parties out in the woods during the season!

There are also many hunting clubs and organizations in the state, such as the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, which advocates for hunters and conservation efforts, and the United Bowhunters of Pennsylvania, which focuses specifically on bowhunting.

Overall, if you’re a hunter in Pennsylvania, you’re part of a vibrant and active community that’s dedicated to preserving the state’s hunting traditions and natural resources.

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Why Pennsylvania Hunting?

Hunting in Pennsylvania is truly more than just a sport or a tradition, it’s a way of life for many people in the state. With over 6% of the entire population being avid hunters, the Keystone state really puts the sport in an entirely different perspective.

From the thrill of the chase to the camaraderie of sharing a hunt with friends and family, there’s nothing quite like the experience of being out in the woods during hunting season in Pennsylvania gorgeous nature.

And besides, when out in the wild, the stress of work and ridiculous non-existent defensive holding calls evaporate just as fast as the Delaware river water.

One of my favorite hunting stories from Pennsylvania comes from an old friend of mine who says he’d been tracking a big buck for days. He had been seeing signs of the deer all over the place but hadn’t been able to get a clear shot.

Finally, on the last day of the season, he spotted the buck in a clearing and took aim. Just as he was about to pull the trigger, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him.

a buck rests in the grass

It turned out to be another hunter who had been tracking the same buck from a different direction. They ended up flipping a coin to see who would take the shot, and my friend ended up losing.

But even though he didn’t get the deer, he said it was one of the best hunting experiences of his life because he got to share it with a fellow hunter who had the same passion and dedication to the sport. My buddy helped dress the deer, and that evening came over for a beer with that hunter – which started a friendship that has been going on for almost twenty years.

In the end, hunting is about being a part of our nature, wildlife, state, and people. No better place embodies these values better than Pennsylvania.

Looking for information on hunting in other states? Check out our other state guides here.

Happy Hunting!

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