hunting season & hiking
Hunters are our allies in conservation. They contribute 14 billion dollars a year to wildlife conservation. Part of which protects public lands that we as hikers can enjoy. Hunting is also important in regulating potentially invasive species, like deer.
In Pennsylvania there are many overlapping sets of seasons that depend on the type of game that is being hunted. The season that hikers should be most concerned about is firearm deer season, which usually lasts around 2 weeks starting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. But since there seems to be some sort of hunting season throughout the year, hikers should always follow some basic rules.
Know when hunting season begins, ends and where hunting is permitted
Hunting is usually not permitted on Sundays in PA (except when hunting fox, coyote and crows), which makes it a safer time to hike. But recently some exceptions have been made. In 2023 hunting is allowed on the following Sundays:
Check the PA State Game Commission's website for more information or reference their pocket hunting guide: www.pcg.pa.gov
Wear Blaze Orange and Reflective Clothing
By law, PA hunters on public land must wear 250 sq. feet of blaze orange on their chest and head during hunting season. You should too.
It's a good idea to always wear orange when hiking. Even if you are hiking on a trail where no hunting is allowed. The property may border another that allows hunting. It's better to be safe and not get shot.
Don't forget an orange vest or bandana for your dog too. They run a greater risk of being shot.
Use Common Sense when hiking during hunting season
Some places aren't good to hike during hunting season, like State Game Lands. Avoid them during this time of year.
Deer are most active at dawn and dusk; so are hunters. Don't hike during these times of day.
Hunters might not see you, so make sure they can hear you
Sing, whistle, talk to yourself. I'm not one to encourage being loud on the trail, but during hunting season you want your presence to be known.
If you hear hunters or shots shout "hikers on the trail."
The Best way to stay safe during hunting season is to hike where no hunting is allowed. Below is a list of
NO HUNTING hikes in Lancaster County:
Conewago Recreational Trail
Conoy Wetlands Nature Preserve
Northwest Lancaster County River Trail