Pennsylvania state park and forest lands offer exciting opportunities for big game, small game, and waterfowl hunting. All 20 of Pennsylvania’s state forests, totaling 2.2 million acres, and 97 of the 121 state parks are open to hunting during established hunting seasons.

Deer hunting is the most popular hunting activity on state land, and helps maintain healthy forests by managing the deer population. Other common hunted game species are:

All hunters must have a current Pennsylvania hunting license from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and are required to comply with the rules and regulations of our state forests and parks when hunting on state land.

Chronic Wasting Disease Impacts in State Forests and Parks

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is an always fatal disease that affects the brain and nervous system of infected deer and elk.

CWD has been detected in some areas of Pennsylvania in both captive and free-ranging deer. Following these detections, the Pennsylvania Game Commission established Disease Management Areas (DMAs) to reduce the risk of spreading CWD to other parts of the state.

Five active DMAs (DMAs 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) currently exist in Pennsylvania; however, newly confirmed cases can alter the boundaries.

All or portions of Bald Eagle, Buchanan, Clear Creek, Elk, Forbes, Gallitzin, Michaux, Moshannon, Rothrock, Tuscarora, Weiser, and William Penn state forest districts, as well as several state parks, fall within a DMA. This includes all, or portions, of the following counties:

  • Adams
  • Armstrong
  • Bedford
  • Berks
  • Blair
  • Cambria
  • Centre
  • Clarion
  • Clearfield
  • Cumberland
  • Elk
  • Franklin
  • Fulton
  • Huntingdon
  • Indiana
  • Jefferson
  • Juniata
  • Lancaster
  • Lebanon
  • Mifflin
  • Perry
  • Snyder
  • Somerset
  • Westmoreland

Hunters who harvest deer within the DMA should be aware that special rules and regulations apply, and they should have their deer tested for the disease. Additional information on CWD – including impacted locations and approved processors – is provided by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

See also  2023 Deer & Elk Hunting Outlook

Hunting in State Forests

More than 2.2 million acres of “big woods” beckon hunters to pursue everything from wild turkeys to ruffed grouse, white-tailed deer and black bears.

Whether you’re looking for an easily accessible hunting spot or a remote, wilderness hunting experience, our state forest system has something for you.

State Forest Deer Study and Hunter Registration

Hunter cooperation is needed as part of collaborative study with the:

If you are planning to hunt antlered or antlerless deer in the areas below, please register prior to hunting:

These DMAP Units are part of a large-scale research study to better understand the role of deer in forest regeneration and how deer and forest management activities affect deer hunting. A critical part of this study is to understand:

After the hunting season, deer hunters will be mailed a survey to share their hunting success and experiences. Individual surveys will remain confidential.

As part of this study, deer have been captured and fitted with satellite radio-transmitters or ear tags to monitor their movements, survival, and harvest rates. Any deer on these areas can be harvested if a hunter possesses the appropriate license or permit.

Hunters are asked to report their harvest of radio-collared or ear-tagged deer by calling the toll-free number printed on the tag or collar. There is no cash reward for harvesting a radio-collared deer.

For additional hunting information and individual maps of the state forests, contact the state forest districts.

Hunting in State Parks

Many areas in our 121 state parks are open to hunting, offering a variety of game species and habitats. Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited.

See also  How Big is a Full-Grown Wild Boar? - AAAC Wildlife Removal

Hunters should use extreme caution with firearms at all times. Other visitors use the park during hunting seasons.

Firearms and archery equipment used for hunting may be uncased and ready for use only in authorized hunting areas during hunting seasons.

In areas not open to hunting or during non-hunting seasons, firearms and archery equipment shall be kept in the owner’s car, trailer, or leased campsite.

The only exception is that law enforcement officers and individuals with a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms may carry said firearm concealed on their person while they are within the park.

For additional hunting information and individual maps of the state parks, contact the state park offices.

Dog Training in State Parks

In state parks, the training of dogs is only permitted from the day following Labor Day through March 31 in designated hunting areas.

Lodging in State Parks for Hunters

Some parks open for hunting also have places to stay. Sixty parks have either seasonal or year-round camping with campsites ranging from tent camping to recreation vehicle camping.

In addition, there are state park houses, modern and rustic cabins, or yurts available for rent at many parks. The following parks offer overnight lodging accommodations:

State Parks with Lodging Accommodations​:​Black Moshannon ​Blue Knob ​Caledonia ​Canoe Creek​Clear Creek ​Cook Forest ​Cowans Gap​Denton Hill ​French Creek ​Gifford Pinchot ​Hyner Run​Keystone ​Laurel Hill ​Linn Run​Moraine ​Nockamixon​Ole Bull​Parker Dam ​Pine Grove Furnace​Prince Gallitzin​Promised Land ​Pymatuning​Raccoon Creek ​Raymond B. Winter ​Ricketts Glen ​Shawnee​Simon B. Elliott ​Sinnemahoning​Trough Creek​Worlds End

Camping and lodging reservations can be made online at visitPAparks.com or by calling the toll-free information and reservation line, 1-888-PA-PARKS (1-888-727-2757).

See also  Hunting News

Waterfowl Hunting in Pennsylvania State Parks and Forests

Many state parks have a man-made lake with adjoining wetland habitat. Often a park’s recreational focal point, these prolific water bodies also attract resident and migrating waterfowl such as:

Each fall, waterfowl hunters enjoy duck and goose hunting in state parks across Pennsylvania. Large streams, rivers, and beaver dams of many state forests hold opportunity for waterfowl hunting as well.

All migratory birds are protected by federal law. Seasons and bag limits for migratory game birds are established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Waterfowl hunters must have a Pennsylvania Migratory Game Bird License and a Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp.

Waterfowl hunters using watercraft are subject to all Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission regulations including regulation that requires a person to wear a Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device from November 1 through April 30 while in any canoe, kayak, or other boat less than 16 feet in length.

Waterfowl Hunting in State Parks

Many state parks offer waterfowl hunting opportunities. The following state parks are popular for waterfowl hunting:

State parks popular for waterfowl hunting: ​Beltzville​Codorus ​Gifford Pinchot​Laurel Hill​Marsh Creek​Maurice K. Goddard ​Moraine ​Pymatuning ​Ryerson Station ​Sinnemahoning ​Swatara ​Yellow Creek

  • Delaware

Most other state forests offer waterfowl hunting opportunities as well.

Hunting Safety Tips

Tips for hunting in state forests and parks:

Previous articleCoues Deer
Next articleTungsten Turkey Ammo: Is It Worth It?
Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>