20 July 2023- The second round of antlerless deer license sales, in which Pennsylvania hunters can pick up a second antlerless license for the 2023-24 seasons, begins Monday, July 24 at 8 a.m.
Antlerless licenses are available anywhere hunting licenses are sold, including online at HuntFish.PA.gov.
More than 480,000 antlerless licenses and more than 490,000 general hunting licenses have sold since licenses went on sale June 26.
At present, antlerless licenses remain in all but one of Pennsylvania’s 22 Wildlife Management Units – WMU 2G in northcentral Pennsylvania, which sold out at lunchtime on the third day of license sales. However, three WMUs – WMUs 1B, 3A and 4C – have fewer than 1,000 licenses left, and it’s possible those WMUs will sell out before the second round begins.
Overall, there figures to be an abundance of licenses available in Round 2. Aside from the forementioned WMUs, only one other – WMU 3B – has less than 10,000 licenses. Many have more than 20,000, 30,000 – even 50,000 – antlerless licenses remaining.
The number of antlerless licenses remaining can be seen in real time on the Antlerless Deer License Quota page at HuntFishPA. A link to this page also can be accessed by clicking on the red box titled “Antlerless Deer Quota” near the top of the home page at www.pgc.pa.gov.
By watching the number of remaining licenses available and tracking how quickly they’re selling, hunters can determine how urgent it is for them to buy a license, and perhaps select a time when they can buy their license without waiting.
There was a lot of wait-free license buying in the first round of sales. More than 300,000 customers – about 65% of antlerless license-buyers so far – bought their licenses with little or no waiting. But all of that followed long, slow-moving lines on the first day of sales, especially for online customers, some of whom waited upwards of 10 hours to buy a license.
By 11 p.m. on the first day, the waiting was over and customers began enjoying the quick and convenient buying experience the new process can offer – even for WMU 2G antlerless licenses, which remained into the third day.
Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans emphasized that hunters aren’t to blame for the incredible demand generated on the first day of license sales, which saw more than five times the number of general licenses sold compared to the first day of sales in 2022. Because this was the first time antlerless deer licenses were available directly at issuing agents and online, no one knew how quickly licenses would sell out, Burhans said. The majority of hunters who endured the inconvenience of long waits during the first day of sales just wanted to make sure they got their antlerless licenses, he said.
“It goes to show just how important hunting is in the lives of so many Pennsylvanians, and how committed hunters are to their pursuit,” Burhans said. “Beyond that, hunters are the backbone of wildlife conservation – for all species, whether they’re hunted or not. All Pennsylvanians should value hunters’ contributions and the service they provide, and I’m truly sorry so many were inconvenienced and made to wait on the first day of license sales. Fortunately, there’s now a blueprint for avoiding such waits in future years by managing demand, and some hunters might be able to apply that strategy in the coming second round, too, and avoid a wait to buy their license.”
While antlerless deer licenses for a given WMU are available first-come, first-serve, only while the science-based allocated number remains, the remaining allocation in many WMUs is so large at present that it’s practically impossible licenses there will sell out on the first day of the second round, and perhaps not at all. So while some hunters might need to be lined up when the second round opens for a chance at an extremely limited number of remaining licenses, others can be reasonably assured they’ll get the license they seek, even if they wait to buy it.
“Because this is the first year for direct sales of antlerless licenses, and the first time antlerless licenses will be sold directly in the second round, it’s unknown exactly how quickly licenses will sell,” Burhans said. “But hunters can track sales through the remaining license allocation available online and use that information to pick the best time for them to buy a license.”
Licenses bought in Round 1
Those who bought licenses online in Round 1, even on the first few days of sales, might not have received them yet.
Because of significant increases this year in the number of licenses sold – to date, general license sales are up by more than 8% and antlerless license sales by more than 99% compared to last year at this time – it’s taken longer to print and ship licenses.
Licenses purchased online usually arrive within seven to 10 business days. Even with the delays now being experienced, those who bought licenses online should receive them soon.
Hunters do not need their paper license to purchase an antlerless license in the second round, and a digital version of a general hunting license can be used when hunting coyotes and groundhogs – the primary species hunted in summer.
Paper harvest tags must be carried afield in all big-game seasons, and in any season in which harvested animals must be tagged. So if another week or two passes, and hunters still haven’t received their paper licenses and tags, they should contact the Game Commission’s License Division at 717-787-2084 to make sure they’ll have what they need come fall.
Round 3 and beyond
In the first round of antlerless license sales, a hunter can buy one antlerless license.
In the second round, that hunter can purchase a second antlerless license. A hunter who does not purchase an antlerless license in the first round is eligible to buy two in the second round, but no hunter can get a third license until the third round begins, at 8 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 14.
The third round of antlerless license sales also marks the start of Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permit sales. DMAP is a program that enables private and public landowners to better meet their own land-management goals.
Permits that allow the hunting and harvesting of antlerless deer specifically on DMAP properties will be available in limited numbers starting at 8 a.m. on Aug. 14. Hunters can get up to two permits per public property, and four permits per private property. Each permit can be used to take one antlerless deer.
For the first time, DMAP permits will be available this year for select state game lands in the Game Commission’s Northwest, Northcentral and Northeast regions. The use of DMAP on these game lands will better allow the Game Commission to achieve its goal of creating healthy wildlife habitat, while providing more opportunities for hunters.
“A careful review of the habitat conditions within these game lands made clear that we needed to take the additional step of enrolling these properties in the DMAP program and asking hunters to help keep the deer populations under control in these areas,” said David Gustafson, Director of the Bureau of Habitat Management. “We’re confident that the increased harvest within these game lands will help us achieve the type of forest regeneration necessary to benefit all wildlife for years to come.”
Hunters can purchase up to two DMAP permits per game lands enrolled in the program. More information regarding the DMAP program is available on the Game Commission website under Deer Management Assistance Program. To find participating properties, including game lands enrolled in the program, visit https://www.pgcapps.pa.gov/Harvest/DMAP.
Meanwhile, the fourth round of antlerless license sales begins at 8 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 28. During that round, hunters may purchase additional antlerless deer licenses until reaching their personal limit of six unfilled licenses. A hunter with six unfilled licenses may not purchase additional licenses until they harvest deer and report them.
Each antlerless deer license costs $6.97 for residents and $26.97 for nonresidents. An antlerless license cannot be purchased without a general hunting license, though a general license and antlerless license can be purchased in the same transaction. General hunting licenses cost $20.97 for residents and $101.97 for nonresidents.