The Commonwealth consists of nearly 16.5 million acres of forestland, with over 20 Wildlife Management Units (WMUs). Squirrel hunting kicks off in the fall yearly, and hunters of all experiences enjoy hunting these small mammals. However, the state has implemented several laws and regulations that hunters must abide by. Let’s take a look at them.
Pennsylvania Squirrel Hunting Season
The state offers big and small game hunting. Experienced and beginner hunters can hunt red, gray, black, and fox squirrels during the regular hunting season, beginning September 9 – February 29, 2024. That said, unlike most states, the state allows hunters to hunt on selected Sundays which you can find below.
Junior hunters without a hunting license can hunt from September 9-23. This is a great opportunity to find out if you want to invest in a license. The Pennsylvania Game Commission implements a daily bag limit of 6 and a possession of 18.
All residents and non-residents, regardless of age, must possess a valid hunting license to hunt and trap in Pennsylvania.
There are no regulations on the types of hunting equipment you can use. Most people prefer using a shotgun, rifle, or bow and arrow when hunting squirrels. It is also important to note that using artificial light for nighttime hunting is prohibited.
So, what type of squirrels does the state have, and where are some of the best places to hunt? Well, let’s take a look.
Types of Squirrels In Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth state is home to a variety of squirrel species. These include some of the following:
- Eastern Gray Squirrel
- Red Squirrel
- Fox & Black
- Flying Squirrels
As mentioned above, only the gray, fox, black, and red squirrels are categorized as small game.
The state protects the Northern Flying squirrel because the species is listed as a priority in the state’s Wildlife Action Plan. Killing or harming them can result in harsh penalties and fines.
Where To Hunt Squirrels In Pennsylvania?
There is no shortage of hunting grounds in Pennsylvania. Whether you’re a seasoned or beginner hunter, there are several places to hunt squirrels and other small game animals.
According to several online forums, some of the best places for squirrel hunting are the following:
- McKeen County Allegheny Reservoir
- Elk State Forest
- Bald Eagle State Forest
- Clear Creek State Forest
- Rothrock State Forest
- Weiser State Forest
- William Penn State Forest
Any patch of woods that contain hickory, beechnuts, or acorns is a great place to hunt squirrel. Hunting in the early morning and late afternoon will ensure you have a good day, as that’s when they are most active.
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources offers a more in-depth list of accessible hunting areas in the state.
This video will provide you with some tips on how to scout for squirrels.
Pennsylvania Squirrel Hunting Regulations
Hunters are responsible for understanding and abiding by the hunting rules and regulations. This entails when hours you can hunt, private and public land, bag limits, safety, equipment, etc.
Many people enjoy hunting squirrels, but the laws differ in every state. Here’s what we found when researching the Pennsylvania squirrel hunting regulations.
Do You Need A License To Hunt Squirrels In Pennsylvania?
All hunters must possess a valid hunting license during the regular hunting season, regardless of age.
At the time of this writing, Pennsylvania hunting enthusiasts can purchase the following types of hunting licenses:
- Pennsylvania Resident: Anyone who has lived in PA for 184 consecutive days or has a permanent dwelling at any time during the tax year. Residents must possess a valid hunting license and any additional permits.
- Non-Resident Hunting License: All non-residents, regardless of age, must purchase a non-resident license. The Mentored Adult Hunting Program is available to hunters to first-time hunters 18 or older; visit the PA Game Commission for more information.
- Youth Hunting License: Residents and non-residents 12 – 16 can apply for a junior hunting license. Hunters 12 – 13 must be accompanied by a licensed adult 18 or older.
- Military and Veteran License: Active duty military members stationed at any of the four military bases must purchase a resident license. Individuals on leave or furlough are not required to purchase a hunting license.
Before purchasing a license, visit the Pennsylvania Game Commission website for updated hunting license details.
How To Purchase An Pennsylvania Hunting License
You can purchase a hunting license online by visiting the PA Hunt Fish website. Allow ten business days to receive your license.
Another option for purchasing a license is visiting a Pennsylvania Game Commission office in Harrisburg, PA, Howard, PA, and Kleinfeltersville, PA, or an authorized issuing agent.
These issuing agents can be found across the state and may include sporting goods stores, convenience stores, hardware stores, and other similar establishments.
What Do You need to Apply for A License?
To apply for a hunting license, the applicant must provide the following:
- State issued driver’s license or state ID
- Proof of a state-approved Hunter-Trapper Education course
Do I Need To Take A Hunters Education Course to Get A Hunting License?
The state requires all first-time hunters and trappers of any age to complete a state-approved hunter education course before applying for a license.
Students must score 80% or higher to pass and obtain a certification.
The PA Hunter Education online course costs $34.95. Anyone under 16 must enroll in an in-person course with the Pennsylvania Game Commission or the interactive ILearntoHunt course, which costs $49.95.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission has implemented a daily bag limit of 6 and a possession of 18, regardless of species.
Pennsylvania Small Game Animals
Whether you enjoy hunting squirrels or not, Pennsylvania has several small game animals you can hunt.
Below is a table of the small game animals and dates for Pennsylvania residents and non-residents.
|Squirrels (Fox, Black, Gray Red)||September 9 – November 11, Sunday November 12, November 13 – 18, Sunday November 19, November 20-24, December 11-23, December 26, February 29, 2024||6 daily|
|Ruffed Grouse||October 14 – December 23||2|
|Cottontail Rabbit||October 14 – February 29, 2024||4|
|Bobwhite Quail||September 1 – March 30, 2024|
|Woodchucks (Groundhogs)||July 1 – November 11, Sunday November 12, November 13-18, Sunday November 19, November 20-24, December 11 – June 29, 2024||No limit|
The dates and bag limits are subject to change, so make sure you check the official Pennsylvania Game Commission website to see the updated prices.
According to Pennsylvania hunting laws and regulations, hunters can use any legal and approved hunting method that is currently in use. As long as you have a permit or license and abide by the rules and regulations, you’ll be fine.
Can You Use A Dog To Hunt Squirrels In Pennsylvania?
According to the PA’s laws and regulations, dogs can only be used as an aid to pursue, retrieve, point, flush, or bring to bay small game animals.
You cannot use a dog to chase, track, or pursue wild turkeys during the fall turkey season.
Allowing your dog to hunt or take tree squirrels or other wildlife is illegal.
Hunters must abide by the rules and regulations of the hunting area. Failure to do so can result in fines.
Can You Hunt From A Motorized Vehicle In Pennsylvania?
According to the Pennsylvania General Assembly § 2504, shooting any wildlife on or within 25 yards of any public highway or road is illegal. Violation of this law will result in fourth-degree misdemeanors.
A fourth-degree penalty consists of a $150 but not more than $300 fine and a possible revocation of your hunting privileges.
Hunters are also prohibited from using any motorized vehicle to hunt, aid in the capture of game animals, or use them as a shooting platform without having permission from the landowner.
Individuals with disabilities must apply for a provision for Hunters with Disabilities permit, which is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
Hunters must abide by the rules and regulations of the area they are hunting. Understanding the laws and regulations, failure to do so can result in harsh penalties and fines.
Do You Have To Wear Orange Or Camouflage To Hunt Squirrels?
All hunters, regardless of season, must wear at least 250 inches of fluorescent orange above the waist at all times. The best clothing for visibility is; a jacket, vest, or overalls. An orange hat alone is not sufficient.
Anyone who causes harm for negligence and failure to abide by the rules is punishable by law in a civil action for injuries or wrongful death.
Equipment and Gear
Equipping yourself with the right gear can make all the difference in your hunting experience. Here is some essential hunting gear:
- Hunting License and Permit: A valid hunting license and a small game permit are required to hunt squirrels.
- Boots: Sturdy and comfortable boots are essential for walking and hiking in the woods.
- Game Bag: A bag or backpack to carry hunting gear and harvested squirrels.
- Binoculars: for scouting squirrel activity from a distance.
- Knife: A sharp knife is necessary for field dressing and skinning squirrels.
- Hunting Clothing: Camouflage clothing that matches the environment can help blend in and stay hidden from squirrels.
- Ammunition: Depending on your weapon of choice or bow used, appropriate ammunition or bolts are necessary for hunting squirrels.
- Map and Compass: A map and compass can help you navigate in the woods and find your way back to camp or your vehicle.
Safety Tips and Considerations
Following safe hunting practices and being aware of squirrel conservation efforts is essential when hunting in Pennsylvania.
Since some squirrel species in the state are protected, understanding local regulations and conservation initiatives is crucial.
Pennsylvania offers experienced and beginner hunters the opportunity to hunt red, fox, black, and gray squirrels during the regular hunting season, which runs from September 9 – February 29, 2024.
The state offers an abundance of public and private hunting areas with various terrain types, so make sure to check hunting laws and regulations before heading out.
Failure to abide by the hunting regulations can result in harsh penalties and your hunting privileges revoked.
The laws and regulations protect both the hunters and the squirrels, promoting responsible hunting practices and ensuring the long-term preservation of this cherished outdoor activity.
Visit the Pennsylvania Game Commission website before heading to the woods, as the dates, license fees, hunting areas, and regulations change regularly.
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