Antlerless Deer Licenses Guaranteed To Most Hunters
April 15, 2024

When 2024-25 antlerless deer licenses go on sale alongside general hunting licenses in late June, far fewer people will be waiting in line.

And for most hunters, there won’t be a need.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has modified the antlerless deer license sales schedule, and additionally is guaranteeing most resident hunters will get an antlerless license in the Wildlife Management Unit of their choice, as long as they do so before sales to nonresidents begin.

Here’s how it will work.

Antlerless licenses again will be sold over the counter and online. But when 2024-25 general hunting licenses go on sale to Pennsylvania residents at 8 a.m. on Monday, June 24, antlerless licenses for only three Wildlife Management Units – WMUs 1B, 2G and 3A – will be sold. For three days, antlerless licenses only will be available for these WMUs, which typically sell out the fastest and drive much of the customer demand seen at the start of sales.

There’s no guarantee in getting a license in WMUs 1B, 2G and 3A. Licenses for these WMUs will be sold on a first come, first serve basis until the allocated number of licenses is exhausted.

On Thursday, June 27 at 8 a.m., antlerless licenses for the remaining 19 WMUs will go on sale to residents. Residents seeking licenses in any of these WMUs won’t need to wait in line for them; they’ll be guaranteed to get one, as long as they buy before 7 a.m. on Monday, July 8 – when the resident-only portion of the first round of sales ends.

Once the nonresident portion of the first round begins at 8 a.m. on Monday, July 8, all remaining antlerless licenses will be sold on a first come, first serve basis until the allocated number of licenses is exhausted.

The changes to the sales schedule and process should work in tandem to reduce wait times for hunters buying licenses throughout the first round. By opening antlerless license sales initially in the three WMUs that are likely to sell out the fastest, and taking the others out of the mix, demand can be better met for those license buyers who need it most. And by guaranteeing an antlerless license to a resident hunter in any other WMU from June 27 to July 8, it largely eliminates the need to stand in line, allows demand to be spread out over more than a week and gives hunters greater flexibility to buy at a time that’s convenient for them.

Even then, there are sure to be plenty of licenses left in most WMUs.

Last year, when antlerless sales were sold over the counter and online for the first time, only WMU 2G sold out before sales to nonresidents began. WMUs 1B and 3A sold out in the final days of the first round. Licenses for every other WMU were available into the second round. Some WMUs sold out quickly thereafter while others made it to a third or fourth round of sales.

Outside of beginning antlerless license sales for high-demand WMUs first, the sales schedule and process is similar to last year. A hunter is limited to buying one antlerless license per round in the first three rounds. Sales begin at 8 a.m. on the first day of any round, and there will be no sales between 7 a.m. and 7:59 a.m. on the first day a round opens, allowing for online customers to join the buying queue.

The second round of sales begins on Monday, July 22 at 8 a.m. and the third round begins Monday, Aug. 12 at 8 a.m. Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) permits also go on sale when the third round begins. During the fourth round, which begins Monday, Aug. 26 at 8 a.m., a hunter may purchase more than one license for any WMU where licenses are available. No hunter may possess more than their personal limit of six antlerless licenses at a time.

Science-based antlerless license allocations are set within each WMU to achieve deer-management goals. By guaranteeing a license to resident hunters in most WMUs, there is a chance more than the allocated number of licenses will be sold. That’s unlikely based on the sales patterns established last year, and if it happened, it wouldn’t necessarily have negative impacts on deer populations. But if license sales exceeded the allocation and adjustments were needed, they would be made in the next license year, as is routine in wildlife management.

In the meantime, more hunters can look forward to enjoying the quick-and-easy buying experience that – outside the long waits on the first day of license sales in 2023 – largely was evident through the new process.

“Last year’s switch to direct antlerless license sales was a needed step to modernize the process and make it more convenient for hunters, but it didn’t come without growing pains – driven mostly by the huge turnout of hunters on the opening day of sales,” Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans said. “Once that initial demand was met, however, hunters generally bought their licenses quickly and easily, without much waiting, and many commented on what an improvement the new process is over the old one. We want all hunters to experience that convenience and simplicity, and the adjustments we’re making should help make that goal a reality.”