Hunting has gotten safer since the start of the hunter-trapper education program in 1959.
By law, all first-time hunters must complete a hunter-trapper education course to buy a Pennsylvania hunting license.
Find a Hunter-Trapper Education Course
Purchase A License
Mentored Hunting Permits
Pennsylvania's mentored hunt permits are designed to provide first-time hunters, of all ages, an opportunity to participate in hunting through the mentorship of a licensed hunter before successfully completing a hunter-trapper education course.
Individuals hunting on a mentored hunt permit
must hunt under the guidance mentor. A mentor is defined as:
- A hunter at least 21 or older who serves as a guide to a mentored hunter and who possess a valid, current hunting license or otherwise qualify for a license and fee exemptions.
Need a mentor? The International Hunter Education Association's new website - LearnHunting is a great resource for new hunters to find experienced mentors in their local area!
Become a mentor! Help pass on the tradition of hunting in our state by volunteering to mentor someone near you. Sign up today at
Learn to Hunt
The Pennsylvania Game Commission's
Learn to Hunt Program is designed to help individuals of all ages become successful hunters. Through these webinars, participants will learn about game behavior, habitat preferences, choosing or using equipment, preparing game meat for the table and much more!
Past Learn to Hunt webinars, currently available, include pheasants, squirrel, spring turkey, and deer. Watch past webinars here: Learn to Hunt Program
Find topics such as Bowhunting, Furtaking & Cable Restraint, Archery Safety Course and more here: Explore Bowhunting
Online Courses: If you want to learn hunting skills from the comfort of your own home, consider taking an online course. Today’s Hunter is a great option and has online courses on how to hunt deer, turkey and elk.
Additional Online Resources:
Expand AllClick here for a more accessible version
Small game is a great way to get new hunters started hunting! There are several reasons why small game hunting is a great option for beginners:
Small game hunting is often more affordable than big game seasons because these seasons require minimal gear to participate.
Small game species are plentiful and relatively easy to find across Pennsylvania, providing ample opportunities for new hunters to successfully harvest game.
Many small game seasons allow more movement and active pursuit of game, which for new hunters, especially youngsters, can be more exciting than sit and wait styles of hunting required for some big game species.
Small game hunting provides new hunters a fun and exciting way to practice and gain skills needed for big game seasons.
Most small game species do not require the purchase of additional or add-on licenses.
Pennsylvania's Small game species include:
squirrels (Gray, Fox, and Red),
grouse, bobwhite quail, woodchuck,
snowshoe hare and crow. Before going out, make sure you check the seasons and bag limits for each species in most current hunting and trapping digest.
Quick Tips on Small Game!
To legally hunt pheasants in Pennsylvania, most hunters are required to purchase a
pheasant permit in addition to a general hunting license. Junior hunters and mentored permit holders must obtain a FREE pheasant permit.
Check out the Game Commission's
Learn to Hunt Squirrels program to help you get started!
Pennsylvania's big game species include
Before going out, make sure you check the seasons, bag limits, and special regulations for each species in most current hunting and trapping digest.
Quick Tips on Deer!
A general resident hunting license includes one antlered deer tag. For each antlerless deer or does you wish to harvest, you must purchase one antlerless license. Hunters can hold up to six unfilled antlerless licenses at one time.
There are multiple seasons in which properly licensed hunters can pursue deer in Pennsylvania, these seasons include archery, special firearms, flintlock, muzzleloader, regular firearms, and extended firearms. The license requirements, arms and ammunition permitted, fluorescent orange requirements, locations and dates vary from season to season. Make sure you check your hunting and trapping digest before going out.
Don't forget to
report your harvest! Hunters must report deer harvest within 10 days.
Check out these Game Commission resources to help you get started deer hunting:
Learn to hunt deer, successful bowhunter course, and PA archery safety course.
Quick Tips on Elk!
Quick Tips on Bear!
To hunt black bears in Pennsylvania, hunters must purchase a
black bear license in addition to a general hunting license. Properly license hunters can only harvest one bear per year.
There are multiple seasons in which properly licensed hunters can pursue black bear in Pennsylvania, these seasons include archery, special firearms, muzzleloader, regular firearms, and extended firearms. The license requirements, arms and ammunition permitted, fluorescent orange requirements, locations and dates vary from season to season. Make sure you check your hunting and trapping digest before going out.
If you harvest a black bear you must have your bear checked by the Game Commission within 24 hours. Information on how to check you bear can be found in your hunting and trapping digest.
Quick Tips on Turkey!
There are two primary seasons to hunt turkeys in Pennsylvania, the spring season and fall season. A general resident hunting license includes one spring and one fall turkey tag.
Properly licensed hunters can purchase a
second spring turkey tag prior to the start of the spring season.
Successful turkey hunters must report their harvest within 10 days.
Check out the Game Commission's
Learn to Hunt Turkeys webinar series to help you get started spring turkey hunting!
Other video resources: PGC YouTube Turkey Tips Series
Pennsylvania's waterfowl and migratory bird game species include a variety of
ducks, geese, doves, woodcock, brant, coots, rails, and snipe.
In addition to a general hunting license, hunters must purchase
additional licenses to hunt waterfowl and migratory birds in Pennsylvania.
Quick Tips on Waterfowl and Migratory Game Birds!
To hunt waterfowl hunters, 16 and older, must purchase a
federal duck stamp and a Pennsylvania
migratory game bird license.
Waterfowl season dates may vary depending on geographic location and species. Please reference the most current hunting and trapping digest for season dates.
To hunt webless migratory game birds, such as dove and woodcock, hunters must purchase a
migratory game bird license in addition to a general hunting license.
If you plan to hunt waterfowl by boat, please note that
life jackets are required by law from November 1 to April 30 every year.
Where to Hunt
With over 1.5 million acres of state game lands provided by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Pennsylvania has plenty of public and private land to go hunting.
State Game Lands: The Game Commission owns and manages more than 1.5 million acres of state game lands throughout the Commonwealth. The primary purpose of these lands is the management of habitat for wildlife and provide opportunities for lawful hunting and trapping.
State Forests: Other locations open to hunting include state forests, national forests, and private land participating in the Game Commission Hunter Access Program. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources manages over 2 million acres of forest land in 50 of Pennsylvania's 67 counties and are open to a variety of recreational activities.
Private Lands: In addition to the millions of public land acres available to hunters statewide, the Pennsylvania Game Commission partners with private landowners to provide public hunting opportunities through its Hunter Access Program. For more than 80 years, the program continues to provide hunting and trapping opportunities to the Commonwealth's sportsmen on millions of acres of private lands.