Crossbows Continue to Gain Acceptance

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners Tuesday gave final approval to a regulatory change that makes permanent the lawful use of crossbows in archery deer and bear seasons.

whitetail hunting with crossbowsThe specific action taken by the Board was removing the sunset date provision inserted into the regulatory changes that permitted crossbows in 2009. The sunset provision required the Board and agency staff to review the impact of expanded use of crossbows on the deer and bear resource before June 30, 2012.

Based on staff input to the Board, while there were increases in the archery harvests of deer and bear that could be attributed to the inclusion of the crossbow, the agency staff did not view the increase as unsustainable and the increased recreational opportunity was an added benefit.


To further the Game Commission’s efforts to find effective tools to manage the deer populations on agricultural lands in the southeast corner of the state, the Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners today gave final approval to a regulatory change to allow for the narrow legalization of the use of bait during all deer hunting seasons in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties on approved properties enrolled in the agency’s Agricultural Damage Depredation Program, commonly referred to as the “Red Tag” program.

“This new regulation allows for the focused use of bait on those farms most in need of deer control assistance through their enrollment in the ‘Red Tag’ program,” said Carl G. Roe, agency executive director. “Presently, farmers applying to enroll in the Red Tag program need to include in their application justification for the need to use bait. What this regulatory change does is allow hunters on these properties to use bait during any legal deer season in addition to the ‘Red Tag’ seasons for antlerless deer, which are from Feb. 1 to May 15, and July 1 to Sept. 28.”

Farmers enrolled in the “Red Tag” program are provided with a specific number of antlerless deer permits, which are red in color. Farmers then give these permits to hunters to harvest antlerless deer from Feb. 1 to Sept. 28 each calendar year, excluding Sundays, during the hours of dawn to dusk only. The permits are not valid from May 16 to June 30, and can’t be used to take bucks.

The listings of farms enrolled in the “Red Tag” program are maintained by the respective Region Offices as those landowners enrolled in the program change from year to year.


In other action today, the Board of Game Commissioners:

– Gave final approval to a technical change to make Game Commission regulations (Title 58) consistent with recent changes in the Vehicle Code (Title 75) in relation to all-terrain vehicles, which are prohibited for use on State Game Lands except for disabled hunters with a permit to use a vehicle as a blind on certain roads on select State Game Lands;

– Gave final approval to update the standard hunting hours table for the 2012-13 seasons, a routine change that must be adopted each year based on sunrise/sunset tables obtained from the U.S. Naval Observatory;

– Gave preliminary approval to a regulatory change to allow the use of draw-lock devices. This change also eliminates the minimum draw weight of 35 pounds for bows, as it was deemed no longer necessary and redundant to other sections of the regulations;

– Gave preliminary approval to a regulatory change to define decoy as “any artificial representation or facsimile of a bird or animal used to attract other birds and animals. This term shall not be construed to include living birds or animals.” The use of electronic or battery operated decoys remains illegal;

– Gave preliminary approval to a regulatory change to clarify that the prohibition on the use of “meat and animal products” in relation to furbearer trapping includes the use of “artificial representations or facsimiles thereof.” This is necessary to avoid attracting birds of prey to sets;

– Gave preliminary approval to a regulatory change requiring license holders to notify the agency within 30 days of any change of residency status, which will cost $6. However, the regulatory change will preclude the license holder from having to acquire a new license for the license year in which the change in residency has taken place. For example, if an individual purchases a resident license, but then moves out of state, they will have to notify the agency of the change in residency status and pay a $6 fee, and they may continue to hunt for that license year still using their resident license. The following year, however, they will need to purchase a nonresident license. Presently, if a resident license holder becomes a nonresident, their license immediately becomes invalid and they have to purchase a nonresident license for that year;

– Established dates of the Board’s two upcoming meetings as follows: June 25-26, at the Harrisburg headquarters; and Sept. 24-25, tentatively set to be held in Franklin, Venango County. The Board also set the dates for the first quarterly meeting of 2013 to be Jan. 27-29, 2013, at the agency’s Harrisburg headquarters, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, just off the Progress Avenue exit of Interstate 81; and

– Announced the next Working Group Meeting of the Board will be held on Tuesday, May 29, at the agency’s Harrisburg headquarters, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, just off the Progress Avenue exit of Interstate 81.