Rabbit Hunting in Pennsylvania

Tips for Rabbit Hunting in Pennsylvania

Even after the popular deer hunting seasons are over, the upcoming winter months can be a great time to stay afield and pursue some rabbits. With many small game seasons in PA, including rabbits, running through the end of February, it is the last chance to hunt for the season for most.

Tips: 

  1.  Be Safe:

When rabbit hunting with a group safety has to be first, as with all types of hunting. When a rabbit takes off, there is no telling what direction it might go. Things happen very quickly in the field and hunters need to be aware only taking the safest shots.

  1.  Don’t rush the shot:

This is all mental. Rabbit hunting action is fast, and there can be days where there are less opportunities than others. It is crucial to take the right amount of time for a shot when a rabbit tries to escape. Hunters often think they have to get that shot off as quick as they can to down the rabbit. There isn’t time to waste, but getting excited and shooting before having a good steady lead on the rabbit is going to result in a miss almost every time.

  1. Hunt the thick stuff:

It’s no secret that rabbits like to hide. Get to the thickest areas possible and chances at success go way up. Look for brushy valleys, thickets, weeds, vegetation, and wood lines along fields.

  1. Find some buddies:

Hunting with a group can be more fun and much more effective. Having a group of hunters will increase odds of jumping rabbits out of thick cover. Stay in a line when working through cover and go slowly. It’s important to cover the territory thoroughly.

  1. Hunt when the sun’s out:

Rabbits will be more likely to be out of their holes when the sun is out. It doesn’t mean success can’t be had when it’s cloudy but be sure to take advantage of those sunny days when rabbits will be out. If hunters move slow enough, it is possible to spot rabbits in cover before they bust. Watch for the horizontal line of the back of a rabbit or look for their black eyes. This tactic takes a lot of practice and patience. Moving slow and keeping eyes up is the key.

Gear for Rabbit Hunting:

  • Shotgun

A 20-gauge shotgun is our recommended gauge. But any gauge, choke, or action will work just fine.

 

  • Ammo

The best shot sizes for rabbit are #6’s and #7 ½’s.

  • Brush or Briar Proof Pants: 

These will help a hunter comfortably get into the thickest cover where the rabbits like to hide in. Hunters can easily walk through briars and thickets without cutting up their legs.

  • Game Vest 

game vest with pouches in the front and rear is crucial. This will allow a hunter to carry their harvest and still have hands free for more action.

  • Fluorescent Orange 

-Don’t forget that a minimum of 250 square inches of fluorescent orange is required on a hunters head, chest, and back combined, visible 360 degrees. 

  • Quality Boots 

-Sometimes rabbit hunting can be a lot of walking. Comfortable boots that will keep feet warm, but not too hot, and dry are a must.

Take Advantage! 

The third rabbit season in Pennsylvania runs from Dec. 26 2018 through Feb. 28 2019 statewide. The limit is 4 daily, 12 in possession. This is a great time to get out and enjoy some hunting with friends and family when most other seasons are over!

A Pennsylvania Ice Fishing Gem – Stoever’s Dam

Ice Fishing Stoever’s Dam for Trout

With temperatures getting colder and colder, ice fishing season is fast approaching. This means it is time to start getting ready for a great time of the year. Ice fishing brings the opportunity to spend time in the outdoors with friends and family, and also catch fish during a time of year when most fishermen are sitting at home. Stoever’s Dam, located just north of Lebanon, PAand 40 minutes from Kinsey’s Outdoors is stocked with trout yearly. After a week or two of below freezing temperatures, it is likely that the mandatory 4 inches of ice is covering the lake. This brings a great opportunity to get into some phenomenal trout fishing during the winter months.

Stoever’s Dam Park

The 23-acre lake is located inside the 153-acre Stoever’s Dam Park. The park is owned by the City of Lebanon and is located on the Northeast boundary of Lebanon City and North Lebanon Township. The park has 4 different entrances making access very easy.

Essential Gear for Ice Fishing at Stoever’s Dam:

First and foremost, a Pennsylvania fishing license and a trout/salmon permit are both required to fish for trout at Stoever’s Dam.

  1.      Rod, Reel, and Line:

Fast or medium action rods work great for ice fishing. A forgiving rod like the Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 will allow for jigging if that’s how you decide to fish. Four-pound test fluorocarbon is the best choice for line. Tip ups are also a great bonus to have. Multiple holes can be drilled in the ice with a tip up deployed at each. The flags make it easy to see when a fish strikes. Fishermen are allowed 5 lines in the water per person. This includes any combination of rods and tip ups.

  1.    Bait and Lures:

Different colors of corn-based PowerBait are very effective. The bright colors and strong smell make them a great option for catching trout on Stoever’s. Trout Magnet larva lures and plastic honey worms are also a must have at Stoever’s. Again, there are several colors to choose from. Even with some great artificial options, live bait seems to always catch the most fish. Minnows, mealworms, and red worms certainly work, but wax worms seem to be the go-to.

  1.     Warm Gear:

On a snow and ice covered lake with frigid temps, warm gear is essential. Being cold can ruin what should be a fun experience on the ice. Thermal base layers are a good start. A pair of knee-high Muck boots along with some wool socks work great for keeping feet warm and dry in the ice, snow, and slush. However, hands can get a little tricky. Wearing big bulky gloves are warm but make it tough to fish effectively. A light to medium pair of gloves paired with a hand muff around the waist is the ideal setup. Hand warmer packets are a great bonus for inside the muff too. Fishermen can use their hands to get fish off the hook, attach bait to hooks, and everything else that goes on, yet still keep hands warm in the muff while not using them. Hot drinks are also a great thing to have along in a Yeti Rambler mug.

  1. Other Things to Have:  
  • Ice spikes for boots 
  • Ice ladle 
  • Fish Finder 
  • Rod Holders 
  • Ice Auger 
  • Ice pics (These are worn around fishermen’s neck at all times while on the ice. They are used to grip the ice in the event that the ice would break.)

How to Catch Trout at Stoever’s Damn

The very south end of the lake seems to consistently produce some good fishing. Try to get anywhere between 50 to 100 feet offshore in about 6-10 feet of water. Hovering bait or lures 6-12 inches off the bottom of the lake should result in the highest amount of hits. Live bait can get stale after some time. Be sure to keep checking bait and replace as needed. Replacing old bait with new will often result in a fish almost immediately.

Don’t Miss Out!

Late winter can be prime time for ice fishing. Fishermen can have a great day at Stoever’s Dam, and the lake will soon be ready to walk on. Take advantage of a great Pennsylvania sporting opportunity with family and friends this season!

Planning the Perfect Ice Fishing Trip in Pennsylvania

Ice Fishing in Pennsylvania | Locations

Fishing doesn’t have to stop when the water freezes over.  In fact, Pennsylvania has some incredible ice fishing opportunities.  Once found, targeting a pod or school of fish doesn’t get any easier. Of course, walking on water can be intimidating to many people. From safety essentials to fishing equipment we help walk you through planning a successful, and affordable, Pennsylvania ice fishing trip!

The Basics

New ice fishing anglers shouldn’t need to go spend a fortune on gear, especially when some ice seasons can be cut short in the moderate climate of Pennsylvania.  That’s why we emphasize purchasing affordable necessities before spending an arm and a leg on premium products. The idea is to start simple and grow as you learn to love the ice.

Ice fishing planning is similar to open water,

  • Find Locations 
  • Purchasing Ice Friendly Right Gear 
  • Remembering Safety First 
  • Learn Ice Techniques

Places to Ice Fish in Pennsylvania

Whether you are chasing pike, trout, or panfish, finding a productive spot requires a little bit of research.  To do this, we recommend that you check the Department of Natural Resources website, fishing forums, and reach out to local bait shops.  Using these resources will help you start off on the right foot and give you an idea of ice conditions before hitting the lake. Another awesome resource is Google earth.  Pick a few prospective lakes and check out their accessibility and landscape using this free tool.  However, for simplicity, we have listed a few popular ice fishing locations in Pennsylvania to begin your scouting below:

  • Middle Creek Lake 
  • Muddy Run Recreational Lake 
  • Blue Marsh Lake 
  • Lake Ontelaunce 
  • Kaercher Creek Lake 
  • Scott’s Run Lake

Once you have chosen a lake you will then want to analyze that lake. Look for accesses, depth changes, and structure.  To do this we recommend you use some sort of charting software.  You can use your graph from your boat or download a mapping app such as Navionics to your phone, which is a cheap and reliable source of information for a new ice angler.  Pull up your prospective lake charts and study it.  If possible, bring it out to the lake with you. Then you can use it as a reference as you continually search for fish.

Ice Fishing Gear You’ll Need

Ice fishing gear doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, the bare essentials can go a long ways.

These include: 

  • Safety Items 
  • Auger 
  • Ice Fishing Rod and Reel 
  • Storage 
  • Tackle 
  • Flasher/Bobber (anything that can help you indicate a bite) 
  • Filet Knife

Safety Gear for Ice Fishing

The first priority when ice fishing is to make sure the ice is safe. Before setting upon any ice adventure it’s always wise to have a game a plan and some necessary tools for that plan. This isn’t just important during first freeze up, but also all year long as weather and ice conditions are changing continuously. Conditions will vary by lake as small and shallow lakes will freeze much quicker than deeper lakes in most situations.

All ice fishing expeditions should have 4 safety priorities.  They include:  

  • A partner 
  • Ice Picks 
  • Spud Bar 
  • Floating Device/Suit

When you are walking on ice, always use the spud bar to check ice thickness and condition.  Take note of how many times it takes you to chisel through the ice. Any major changes to this number helps you determine changing ice conditions.

As you are walking, have ice picks around your neck and a float suit on if possible. If you don’t have one, bring a life vest.  These items can make sure you can recover yourself as quickly as possible if you do happen to fall in.

Ice Fishing Auger

Once you know the ice is safe, you need the right tools to get through the ice.  Thankfully, there are a variety of augers for every type of ice condition and budget.  With ice depth staying relatively shallow in Pennsylvania, it’s hard to go wrong with any of the options below.  

  • Spud Bar 
  • Hand Auger 
  • Electric Auger 
  • Propane Auger 
  • Gas Auger

In most instances a spud bar, hand auger, or electric auger is sufficient on Pennsylvania frozen waters.  For those who also like to travel for ice fishing adventures; then upgrading to propane or gas might be beneficial.  However, finding the right one depends on the price, availability, frequency, and depth you plan on drilling.

For beginners, we recommend investing in a hand auger if the ice is too thick for the spud bar.  This is a cheap investment and can allow you to upgrade once you are committed to the sport.  In Pennsylvania, holes cannot exceed 10” and in most instances ones much smaller than that will be acceptable.

Ice Rod and Reel Setup

As for the necessary accessories we have you covered. Compact and lightweight are the differences between ice and open water fishing.  In the summer, the goal is to cover ground, get away from the boat, and cast long distances.  In the winter it’s all about vertical jigging.  This means being compact, lightweight and mobile.

There are a lot of different factors to consider when looking for the right rod. However, for beginner ice anglers, we recommend you emphasize length and action.

Length

Most ice fishing rods vary from 23” to 42”. Shorter lengths are recommended for using smaller baits on species such as gills and crappie.  The longer lengths help you gain leverage for bigger baits and bigger fish.

Action

Action is also important. It determines where your rod bends and how soft of a bite you might feel.  Often times, shorter rods are more commonly light action.  For any type of panfishing we recommend a light or ultra light action rod. For larger fish, medium to heavy will do the trick.

In Pennsylvania, you can have up to 5 lines in the water.  However, if you are new to fishing or on a budget, one will do the trick.

RecommendedShakespeare Rod and Reel Combo

Ice Fishing Line & Tackle

Picking the right tackle also depends on the species of fish you are targeting.  For small fish, it’s wise to use lightweight tackle.  This means small jigs and spoons when chasing crappie, sunfish, perch, saugers, and even small walleye.  For bigger predators such as pike; heavier duty line and tackle will be needed. Look for 8 pound or greater line in these situation.

As for line there are three main types: 

  • Monofilament 
  • Braided 
  • Fluorocarbon

Each line has its own benefit. Braid is ultra tough and sensitive.  Fluorocarbon is the closest to invisible that line can come, and monofilament is the most affordable of the line. It has a stretch, thicker diameter, isn’t overly visible and is considered a great place for starters.

We recommend monofilament for beginning budget anglers.  It’s cheap, easy to spool and has reduced visibility compared to braid.  Its ability to stretch also makes it great for heavy action baits.

Recommended: Berkley Trilene XL Monofilament Fishing Line

Ice Fishing Lures

Picking the right lure depends on the species of fish you are trying to target.  Usually this means smaller lures for smaller fish.  However, it’s always good to have a variety of lures in your tackle box. We recommend the Acme Kastmaster in 1/12 oz size. It’s small enough to hook into a panfish while also big enough for walleye.

Recommended: Acme Kastmaster 1/12 oz.   

Indicator

Many ice anglers will choose to use a flasher for identifying and targeting fish. These can either be standalone units such as a Vexilar or they can be the same hardware you use on your boat but with a flasher attached.  However, for new anglers, especially those who live in limited ice conditions, bobbers can work great! Before investing in an ice fishing unit or flasher kit; it’s important to make sure you actually enjoy being on the ice first. Therefore, borrowing a unit or setting up tip-ups and bobbers can work just as well for beginners.

Recommended: Carlisle Spring Float Dia Oval Bobber

Fishing Pliers

Removing hooks as quickly and efficiently as possible is a must for conservation. That’s why it’s essential you keep pliers on you at all time.  In addition, they also work well as line cutters and all-purpose tool as well.

Recommended: Rapala Fisherman’s Pliers

 

Ice Fishing Chair

A shelter is definitely optional for the state of Pennsylvania.  However, going without a seat is not an option for most people.  A padded bucket is a perfect way to include storage and a place to sit.  This helps keep you compact and comfortable.  Fill the bucket with your gear and use the seat when you are all setup. It also makes a great place to carry your harvest of the day.

Recommended: Muddy Spin Top Camouflage Bucket

Ice Fishing Shelter/Heat

Having a shelter is optional, but can be very beneficial if you manage to get cold easily. There are two main types: fishtrap and hub.  Hubs tend to be more affordable where fishtraps/sleds come with seats and comfort built in.  However, combine either one with a heater and no on in your fishing party will be cold.

RecommendedLittle Mr. Buddy Heater

 

Filet Knife

If you decide to keep a few fish for dinner it’s important to have a filet knife on hand.  Rapala makes a variety of quality filet knives ranging from traditional to electric.  However, the Rapala Hawk Filet knife is a reliable, affordable, and easy to pack option. It’s perfect for anybody who simply wants to clean a few fish out on the ice (or cook themselves some dinner). No power needed!

RecommendedRapala 6” Hawk Filet Knife

Storage and Transportation

We have already discussed bringing a bucket for storage.  However, if you don’t have a compact tackle bag it might be worth the investment.  Having your tackle, pliers, line, and accessories in one place helps your gear stay organized and travel easier.

Recommended: Berkley Powerbait Tackle Bag

Finally having some way to transport gear is essential.  We recommend using a sled, this way you can walk, four wheel or snowmobile with ease.

Ice Fishing Strategy

Next is hitting the ice with a strategy.  The best way to do this is to do a little prefishing research, use a mapping device (for example, download Navionics to your phone) and start fishing.  If you haven’t marked (if using a flasher) or caught a fish in a period of time, then move.  Once you get on them it should be rapid fire fishing.

Stay Mobile

As previously mentioned, one of the most important parts is being ready to move.  Sunfish can be found along weedbeds, crappies in basins, walleye on structure and pike anywhere and everywhere. However, one thing is common with targeting any of them: you need to be able to move to them.

Pick a few places on your map and setup. Set a timer, if you haven’t marked or caught a fish after 30 minutes then be sure to move.  Just like you would move with a boat, it’s essential that you move by foot.

Baits

If you plan on targeting panfish, bait such as small minnows, waxworms, and preserved bait works great. For bigger predators, setting up with a sucker minnow and bobber can be the ticket.

As for lures, think small fish small lure and big fish big lures. As you start finding the fish monitor their reaction.  If you are struggling to catch, don’t be afraid to downsize.  If catching becomes difficult, always check for line twists.  The key to winter success is staying mobile and perfecting your vertical presentation.

Keep Multiple Tools in Your Tackle Box

It’s always good to a have a variety of lures in your tackle box.  Keep multiple colors, reactions, and sizes of many different brands on you at all times. By using small snap swivels, swapping lures can become easy.  If you have an extra rod and reel, having it hooked up and ready to go with a different style lure can save a lot of time and catch you more fish.

As you learn to ice fish, you will also learn how to identify which lure works best at which times.  Make sure to check out our variety of lures to add to your box!

Putting it all Together

Ice fishing is an incredibly rewarding adventure once you have the right gear and get comfortable on the ice. It helps you get outside on those short and gloomy winter days.  It builds confidence, improves technique, and is a great way to spend your winter days with anyone.

Pennsylvania Goose Hunting Strategy for Second Season Flocks

Planning Your Late Season Pennsylvania Goose Hunting Attack

Frozen ponds and lakes spell nothing but trouble for the average waterfowl hunter. However, those that know how to attack late season Pennsylvania goose hunting are in for some of the best days of the season.

Canadian goose hunting culminates with the arrival of winter in the Commonwealth. The September goose season gave way to deer season and the second goose season picks back up right where deer season left off. Putting together the right strategy for the second season will set you up for some of the hottest wing shooting action of the entire year.

Late Season Pennsylvania Goose Hunting Season

Amble opportunities present themselves throughout the year for goose hunting in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania goose season 2018-19 begins in September with roughly a month-long stint open to harvesting. Then it breaks and comes back in late October or November depending on which population zone you are hunting in.

Pennsylvania goose hunting is regulated by three main population zones; the Atlantic, Resident, and Southern James Bay. Each has their own goose hunting season dates and daily and possession limits for Canadian geese.

(from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Hunting and Trapping Digest)

Detailed descriptions of the boundaries of each population zone as well as complete regulations and exceptions for Canadian goose hunting in the state can be found in the Pennsylvania Game Commission Hunting and Trapping Digest.

Scouting Flocks for Late Season Goose Hunting

Scouting becomes much more important during the second goose hunting season. You have to deal with frozen waterways, harvested and unharvested crop fields, and increased hunter pressure. Geese will be focusing in on any open water they can find. Flocks will also be concentrating on harvested agricultural fields such as corn and beans for foraging. Scouting these areas frequently is critical to planning your attack.

There is no real secret formula to scouting geese flocks in winter. The main consideration is time. You need to be able to put the time driving around searching for flocks. Document where flocks are feeding, particularly how they are coming and going from a field. The same strategies for finding ducks also can be applied to goose hunting season. Drive around, follow flocks and ask for permission for hotspots if you don’t already have it.

Decoy Strategy for Fooling Second Season Geese

Geese decoy choices include silhouettes, shells, and full-bodied. Commonly, silhouettes are used because they are light and portable and you can carry a lot of them to and from the field. The other end of the spectrum are full-bodied decoys. These are the most realistic but are hard to transport and setup when you start talking dozens or hundreds of decoys.

The most consistent Canadian geese decoy setup is a mix of silhouettes and full-bodied geese decoys. Silhouettes provide movement even on windless days while the full-body decoys give the spread a sense of realism to overhead flocks. Both characteristics balance the setup well and offer your best chances to call in a reluctant late season flock.

Rule of thumb, you can never put out too many geese decoys! Put out as many as you can afford and reasonably transport to where you are hunting. Factor in the amount of time, however, it will take setting up and tearing down each spread when considering how many decoys to use.

One of the most important goose hunting tips for a decoy spread is to position them so you are hunting with the wind at your back. Geese will approach and land into the wind so you want them coming in facing you for a good shot. Also, don’t simply deploy your spread in a random pattern across a huge field either. Use shapes like an X, U or J as a loose pattern for typical ways to set up your decoys. Doing so allows you to direct an interested flock right into your position rather than having them land randomly all over the field.

How to Call Geese into Decoys When It Gets Tough

Calling when Pennsylvania goose hunting is a very much reactive process. Let the geese define how to plan your calling approach. Here are three scenarios and the calling approach you should use for each.

  • Flock flying into decoys – Cluck as fast and loud as you can. If you are hunting with others, make sure they are clucking as well. Transition to a long, low-pitched sound called a moan as they lock up to seal the deal.
  • Circling or flying away flocks – Use a come-back call if a flock is unwilling to come in on the first try or if they decide to bypass you altogether. You want to use a long honker flute to produce a low to high long note to basically beg the flock to reconsider. If they turn towards you, go back to clucking.
  • Moody flocks – How to get geese to land in your field often comes down to matching the mood of each individual flock. Let the flock tell you what they want to hear. If a flock is mostly silent then you should only cluck a few times and let them come in on their own. Other flocks may be very vocal and need to be called in until they hit the field.

4 Alternative Strategies for Cornfield Goose Hunting

One thing you can count on during the second Pennsylvania goose hunting season is that geese can be found on corn fields. Both resident and migratory flocks have adapted to recognize and depend on leftover grains, especially corn. The later it gets in the season the more important agricultural fields become to geese.

The best days goose hunting in Pennsylvania are when the weather turns nasty. Cold, snowy days get birds more active and interested in joining another flock in a cornfield feeding. Hunting pressure can make it tough, however, because other hunters will be focused on good corn fields. Shy flocks, however, can be bagged by changing to different strategies when cornfield goose hunting.

1. Side ambush setup – Logic says to hunt upwind from your decoy spread. Instead, position your layout waterfowl blind in the middle and off to one side of your decoys. Flocks have seen blind after blind and been shot at all season from traditional blind setup locations. Moving to the side of a cornfield can be just what it takes to fool a flock.

2. Downsize your decoy flock – More is always better when it comes to a decoy spread for geese most of the time. Although, there are times in the season when local flocks get very finicky and refuse to lock up into a full spread. When this happens, it doesn’t hurt to downsize your flock to a few dozen decoys. Other options include going to a silhouette or full-bodied only setup or trying decoys in pairs. Both tactics can be effective if you are hunting areas with heavy hunting pressure.  

3. Remove warning signs – Geese quickly become educated to the warning signs of danger. Parking to close to a cornfield you are hunting, driving through the field you are hunting, or not covering up blood in the kill zone are all red flags for approaching flocks. Minimize and maintain your field by raking over tracks and covering blood to prevent a flock from flying right over your spread. 

4. Vary your decoy setup – Many field goose hunting decoy spreads look the same from field to field and day to day. Flocks will learn quickly that those geese in an “X” or “U” shape means danger. Each day and even during the course of a day change your decoy pattern to stay one step ahead of late season flocks.

The second Pennsylvania goose hunting season provides an extended period of time in most population zones to put more geese in the freezer. The days will be long and cold in the late season but rewarding and fun. Attacking flocks with the right strategy and mixing up your approach, especially when geese move off water and into fields, will make for a productive second season of goose hunting in Pennsylvania.

Duck Season | When, Where and Gear to Hunt Ducks in Pennsylvania

Navigating the Pennsylvania Duck Season

A common response many hunters provide when asked about Pennsylvania duck hunting is it is just “OK”. A fair assessment perhaps and possibly a product of the state’s long heritage with deer hunting that takes away from some of the excitement duck season in the Commonwealth offers. Regardless, remember that Pennsylvania is a major fly-through zone encompassing parts of the both the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways. Combine that with the opportunities the Susquehanna River Basin and numerous lakes and ponds offer, waterfowl seasons in Pennsylvania can be quite epic.

State Duck Season Limits and Regulations Review

Waterfowl hunting in Pennsylvania is different than other Pennsylvania hunting seasons. Much of the regulations and seasons are influenced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since ducks and other waterfowl are migratory.

Waterfowl License Requirements

Each person hunting ducks 16 years old and older, or other waterfowl, are required to have a federal duck stamp or electronic duck stamp in addition to their general Pennsylvania hunting license. Also, all hunters 12 years old and older are also required to have a Pennsylvania migratory game bird license.

Pennsylvania Duck Season 2018-19 Dates

Pennsylvania duck hunting seasons for ducks, sea ducks, coots, and mergansers run concurrent but vary by opening and closing dates across the state’s four hunting zones. For most zones, the majority of the Pennsylvania duck season 2018-19 is just beginning.

from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Hunting and Trapping Digest

Bag Limits and Other Important Regulations

Bag limits set each year must conform to the framework established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Some limits remain stable from year to year while others can change over the course of several waterfowl seasons. Six ducks daily and 18 in possession combined species are the limits for the 2018-19 duck hunting season. However, the daily limit of six may not include more than the following limits per individual species.

  • 4 mallards including 2 hen mallards 
  • 2 scaup 
  • 2 black ducks 
  • 3 wood ducks 
  • 2 redheads 
  • 4 eiders 
  • 2 canvasbacks 
  • 2 pintails 
  • 1 mottled duck 
  • 1 fulvous whistling duck 
  • 4 scoters 
  • 4 long-tailed ducks

In addition to daily limits, other important regulations should also be reviewed. Shotguns must be restricted to three shells max and only non-toxic shot may be used (no lead shot shotgun shells). Also, electronic duck hunting decoys can be used for hunting and no fluorescent orange is required to worn. Finally, waterfowl hunters are required to wear a life jacket if hunting out of boats less than 16-feet in length, or any canoe or kayak starting Nov.1.

Where to Start Your Pennsylvania Duck Season

One of the jewels of the Atlantic Flyway is the Susquehanna River Basin. The Susquehanna River is the main waterway in the basin and runs north to south through the state. Public access and abundant ducks make this the first place to start your duck hunting season.

The Harrisburg area on the Susquehanna holds consistently high numbers of mallards and black ducks. Other stretches and additional tributaries such as the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in northcentral Pennsylvania also offer good duck hunting although duck populations are less consistent as you move away from the main river. Susquehanna River duck hunting can bring with it opportunities for a variety of species including scaup, canvasbacks, mergansers and other highly sought-after duck species. The river remains mostly ice-free, or at least until duck season goes out in January, which makes it a hotspot for numerous species up until the last day of the season.

How to Find Local Duck Hunting Hotspots

Other duck hunting hotspots besides the Susquehanna River and its tributaries also exist. Numerous public access lakes, including some state parks, also offer opportunities for duck season. You can find these areas much the same way you would seek out public land deer hunting opportunities in Pennsylvania. The better option, however, when asking the question of where to hunt ducks in Pennsylvania is to consider private lands. Use these tips to help you find other places to hunt ducks in Pennsylvania.

  1. Tail the ducks – Ducks will be on the move daily but most times you can develop a pattern of a small local flock over time. Put in time following birds. Understand where they are in the morning, where they move to in the afternoon and where they end up in the evening.
  2. Be fluent with digital maps – Digital maps can save you a tremendous amount of time trying to find local ducks. You can easily cross off areas where ducks are unlikely to be while also identifying areas that look promising. From there, various hunting apps provide landowner information or you can use public county tax databases as a tool to ask for duck hunting permission.
  3. Work with other hunters – Many make for light work. Certainly true when it comes to deciding where to duck hunt in Pennsylvania. Work with other duck hunters in your local area to share information. As many of us are not professional duck hunters, it is hard to tail ducks all day every day. Others can see and follow flocks you may miss that can lead you to a duck hunting hotspot.

Must-Have Gear for Pennsylvania Waterfowl Hunts

Whether you are new to duck hunting in Pennsylvania or a seasoned veteran, there are several pieces of equipment everyone needs to have to be able to tackle duck season successfully. Of course many go well beyond this basic duck hunting gear list and that is fine. However, just remember it doesn’t take a huge investment to enjoy duck hunting.

  • Waders – Most duck hunting happens in or around water during the coldest months of the year. Neoprene chest waders are a must to keep you warm and dry while hunting. Look for ones in a camo pattern, have at least 1,000 grams of insulation and have a hand warmer pocket.
  • One dozen mallard duck decoys – Don’t worry about having a decoy set for every kind of duck on the waterBlack ducks, teal and even wood ducks will all decoy into a set of mallard duck hunting decoys just as often as a set of expensive individual species decoys.

  • Reliable duck call – The standard is the simple mallard call. All species respond to it and it is typically an easy call to blow. A wood duck call is also a valuable addition to your duck hunting gear. Having one of these duck hunting calls will allow you to call in other puddle ducks besides mallards like wood ducks and teal.

Without going into great detail on the other pieces of duck hunting gear and accessories you must have, you probably already know you will need a reliable and durable shotgun (pump or semi-auto), non-toxic shells, warm clothing for duck hunting, waterproof gloves and a gear bag to carry everything in.

Duck season in Pennsylvania is an exciting and great hunting opportunity. In the right spot with the right gear, the action is a fast-paced onslaught of shooting. Take advantage of the great flocks that visit the state, particularly in the Susquehanna River Basin, and bag your limit this season.

Late Season Deer Hunting Strategy for Pennsylvania Bucks

Deer Hunting Strategy for Harvesting a Late Season Pennsylvania Buck

The first day of deer rifle season is tradition in Pennsylvania. Whether you enjoy archery or muzzleloader hunting, everyone marks the opening day of Pennsylvania’s rifle season on their calendar. All that hype, anticipation, and year-long excitement is over in one short day. Prepared, and lucky, hunters, will have one hanging at the end of the first day but many more will have to re-evaluate and adapt their deer hunting strategy if they want to harvest a late season buck in the Keystone State.

Late Season Deer Hunting Opportunities in Pennsylvania

Deer hunting the late season starts the beginning of the second week of rifle season and runs all the way to the conclusion of deer hunting in Pennsylvania, which is the last day of flintlock season.

Deer Hunting Season in Pennsylvania

Deer firearms season: November 26 – December 8.

  • Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 2B, 5C and 5D both antlered and antlerless deer can be harvested with each required license.
  • WMUs 1A, 1B, 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, 2G, 2H, 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E, 5A and 5B are antlered harvest only November 26 – November 30 except for those hunters having a DMAP antlerless permit, who can harvest an antlerless deer in a DMAP zone. From December 1 – December 8, both antlered and antlerless deer can be harvested.

Deer flintlock and archery after Christmas season: December 26 – January 12.

  • One antlered or antlerless deer can be harvested with a buck tag and additional antlerless deer can be harvested with each additional doe tag.

All Pennsylvania deer hunting season and bag limit regulations.

Late season deer hunting in Pennsylvania can be split into two distinct phases. The first is the second week of the deer firearms season. Deer hunting on public land in Pennsylvania has been overloaded with hunters the first week of rifle season and now hunting pressure is slowly decreasing. These last few days of rifle season can be productive if you know how to hunt deer.

The second phase of the late season is the after Christmas flintlock and archery season. Roughly 3 weeks after the end of the rifle season, late season flintlock and archery season provide hunters one last chance at Pennsylvania deer hunting. Hunters are restricted to using traditional flintlock muzzleloaders or archery setups during this season. It takes a completely different deer hunting strategy during these weeks, however, to score a last minute buck.

Deer Hunting Strategy for the Last Week of Rifle Season

If you are not seeing any deer while hunting the second week of rifle season, it may be time to adapt your deer hunting tactics. Here are four tips to up your deer hunting strategy in the second week.

  1. Still-hunt bad weather days – The rifle season only lasts for two weeks in most WMUs in the state so you have to hunt when you can. This includes bad weather days. Still-hunt along ridges and on old logging roads where you can stop and glass often. The weather (rain, snow or wind) will allow you to sneak quietly and possibly make something happen and spot an unsuspecting buck. A good deer rifle scope goes a long way here if you have to take a long shot at a buck.
  2. Re-visit your opening day plan – A buck that has been pushed from his core area on opening day will come back as pressure subsides in the second week. Go back to your opening deer hunting strategy and wait for him to come back.
  3. Use any hunting pressure to your advantage – Some more mature bucks will go nocturnal during rifle season. The only way they will move in daylight hours is by getting bumped. Don’t be afraid to hunt where others are hunting. Let them move around and spook up a buck to your position.
  4. Try some rut tactics – In some areas, bucks will still be in rut mode. Either late estrous does or second rut action can be found in the second week. It is not a bad idea to have your grunt call, doe bleat and even rattling horns with you. Be cautious, however, as rattling and blowing a grunt call in areas with a lot of hunting pressure may yield unwanted hunters to your area.

How to See More Deer While Hunting after Christmas

Some of the same deer hunting tips used in the second week of rifle season can also be effective in the after Christmas flintlock season. Although, deer are now back into predictable patterns, particularly their winter patterns. This deer hunting season in Pennsylvania requires more attention to basic deer needs and less around hunting pressure. Consider these three deer hunting tips and strategies when hunting the flintlock season.

  1. Hunt mid-day – Winter will be in full force and even the deer will notice the cold temperatures. With reduced hunting pressure, bucks will move more during mid-day when temperatures warm. You want to be hunting when the sun is the highest and bucks are taking advantage of the few extra degrees of warmth.
  2. Focus on late season food sources – Deer will be back into feeding mode trying to recover from the rut and maintain themselves during the cold. Groups of deer will usually gather around remaining food sources like mast producing ridges and remaining agricultural fields with leftover crops. Both of these locations are ideal ambush spots for late season deer hunting. Having quality hunting clothing will help you sit over these areas in the evening as temperatures drop.
  3. Key in on deer sign – Deer sign is probably more important now than any other time of the year besides the peak rut. In winter deer are not traveling great distances. They are going from bedding areas to feeding areas and back again on a fairly consistent pattern. Areas with fresh deer sign mean deer are in the area and will be back through at some point. Hunt fresh sign and hope one of the tracks or pile of scat you find belongs to a leftover buck.

Don’t get discouraged if you have not filled your buck tag yet. There are many more days left for deer hunting in Pennsylvania besides the first day of buck season. Focus and adapt your deer hunting strategy during the second week of rifle season and during flintlock season to tag out a late season buck.