Deer season isn’t over quite yet: 140k acres open up after Christmas in PA

18 December 2023- Deer hunting isn’t over yet; the after-Christmas seasons await.

And in the newly created Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) unit spanning more than 140,000 acres in Dauphin, Northumberland and Schuylkill counties, hunters have even more time and additional opportunities.

You could be one of them.

Each hunter can purchase up to two permits to hunt in DMAP Unit 6396, and more than 3,500 permits remained available this week.

Within this unit, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has extended the late archery and flintlock muzzleloader deer seasons and will hold an extended firearms season for antlerless deer, as well.

These after-Christmas seasons all will run from Dec. 26, 2023 to Jan. 27, 2024 within DMAP Unit 6396, as well as in Wildlife Management Units 2B, 5C and 5D. In the rest of the state – including the areas of Wildlife Management Units 4C and 4E outside of DMAP Unit 6396 – there is no extended firearms deer season, and the late archery and flintlock deer seasons run from Dec. 26, 2023 to Jan. 15, 2024.

The extended firearms deer season is for antlerless deer only. Hunters participating in this season, where open, must have either a valid DMAP permit for the DMAP Unit they’re hunting or a valid antlerless license for the WMU where they’re hunting. Extended firearms season hunters must wear, at all times, 250 square inches of fluorescent orange material on the head, chest and back combined, with orange visible from 360 degrees, and they may use the same sporting arms that are lawful in the regular firearms deer season.

The late archery and flintlock deer seasons are open for antlered and antlerless deer hunting. A hunter must be properly licensed to hunt in those seasons and must have a valid antlered deer harvest tag to qualify to take a buck. Antlerless deer may be taken in these seasons by hunters with a valid DMAP Unit 6396 permit or a valid antlerless license for the WMU where they’re hunting.

Additionally, flintlock hunters may harvest an antlerless deer and tag it with their unused antlered deer tag. This is the only circumstance in which an antlerless deer harvest tag is not needed in the harvest of an antlerless deer.

There is no orange requirement for archery or flintlock deer hunters, though the use of fluorescent orange in these seasons is strongly encouraged.

DMAP Unit 6396 is within CWD Disease Management Area 8 (DMA 8), which the Game Commission established earlier this year in response to two CWD detections in Dauphin County – the first CWD detections in free-ranging deer east of the Susquehanna River. The additional hunting opportunities within DMAP Unit 6396 serve to help limit the establishment and spread of CWD in this area.

“Because these detections are the first in free-ranging deer on the east side of the Susquehanna River a quick response is important to prevent the establishment of the disease in this new area,” said Game Commission CWD Biologist Andrea Korman. “Additionally, the detection in WMU 4C was confirmed after the antlerless allocation was set, so the standard response of increasing harvest through the allocation at the WMU level did not occur. Given these high priority detections, it was determined that increasing harvest through additional DMAP permits and extended seasons was the best course of action to address CWD in a timely manner.”

By increasing the harvest and lowering the population, the risk of healthy deer being infected by CWD-positive deer decreases significantly.

DMAP Unit 6396 includes portions of State Game Lands 210 and 211, and all of State Game Lands 264. A map of DMAP Unit 6396 is available at the DMAP participating properties page at www.pgc.pa.gov.

Hunters harvesting deer here, or within any DMA or the CWD Established Area (EA), can have them tested for CWD free of charge by placing the heads from harvested deer in any CWD collection bin provided by the Game Commission within that area.

Each DMAP permit costs $10.97 and can be used to harvest one antlerless deer. Permits for other DMAP units might be available, as well. And for some DMAP units, hunters can buy up to four permits each.