On the hunt…
Hunters flock to the Endless Mountains for many reasons. Among them are the beauty of the region, vast acreage of State Game Lands (approximately 185,000 acres in all), and bountiful wildlife, including white-tailed deer, black bears, turkeys, migratory birds, and small game, as well as many opportunities for furtakers. In recent years, seasons for big game have been expanded, and hunting has been permitted on select Sundays.
Hunting throughout the commonwealth is governed by the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), through which both local residents and visitors purchase licenses and permits relative to their respective passions. Bear, antlerless deer, archery, muzzleloader, bobcat, and furtaker permits are among the potential add-ons to a basic adult hunting license. When purchasing your license, be sure to request a copy of the Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest. Updates on changes in bag limits, rules for extended and overlapping seasons, and preservation concerns can be found just inside the cover. The PGC recognizes hunting and furtaking as family-friendly activities and has simplified mentored hunting requirements for youths in recent years. Bradford and Sullivan counties are in PGC’s District 5 in the Northeast Region. State Game Lands 12 and 36 cover a large swath of Bradford County with smaller tracts accessible in the northwest and northeast parts of the county. Much of southeast Sullivan County is dedicated to wildlife preservation and hunting, including State Game Lands 13 and 66. Susquehanna and Wyoming counties are part of District 7 in the Northeast Region. State Games Land 57 is one of the largest in the Endless Mountains, covering most of southwestern Wyoming County. State Game Lands in Susquehanna County are more spread out, the largest being No. 35 between New Milford and Hallstead.
Online maps provided at www.pgc.pa.gov also show state forests and numerous sites available to hunters that are privately owned by “hunter access cooperators.” As noted, hunters should always ask for permission to access the land and acquire an understanding of the property owners’ specific rules and wishes. Don’t hesitate to offer your host a portion of your take. Avoid lands marked with No Trespassing signs or purple paint on trees.
Local businesses, including restaurants, sporting goods stores, hotels and bed & breakfasts are very welcoming to hunters and may offer special deals and packages to bring you and your fellow hunters to their town. There are also a growing number of outdoor and indoor shooting ranges for practice or fun. Some of these can be found at https://endlessmountains.org/directories/hunting-fishing/. Do some research in advance specific to the county in which you will be hunting for local butchers and taxidermists who can process your take to your specifications. Deer hunters who are not interested in taking their venison home are encouraged to donate it to Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH) and find out in advance through https://sharedeer.org/meat-processors/ which local butchers will take your dressed deer at little or no cost. In 2019, HSH donated a record 155,000 pounds of ground venison to food banks for distribution across the state. Once you hunt in the Endless Mountains, you’ll want to come back. Maybe it’s time to purchase that getaway cabin for family gatherings that will lead you and your loved ones to the many other recreational and cultural events and venues that we have to offer!
A list of State Game Lands can also be found in our newly released “Endless Mountains Outdoor Recreation Guide”, done in partnership with the Endless Mountains Visitors Bureau, Bradford County Tourism Promotion Agency and our four counties.