- News -

It’s Time to Purchase PA Antlerless Tags to Hunt Deer and Potentially Help Others

Weekly Bargain Bulletin
Edition 2568
July 9, 2021

Outdoor Opportunities
By COL(Ret.) Grey D. Berrier II

It’s Time to Purchase PA Antlerless Tags to Hunt Deer and Potentially Help Others (Part 1 of 2)

Have you ever noticed how every profession, sport, organization, or hobby has its own “insider information”? I’m talking about unique things individuals involved would consider common knowledge that others not involved would most likely have no idea what you are talking about. This concept can be applied to deer hunters, and specifically PA deer hunters, because other than individuals who work for the U.S. Postal Service and those employed in one of PA’s county treasurer’s offices, most people would have no idea what you were talking about if you said, “It’s time for the annual pink envelope lottery”. Please allow me to let you in on the secret, if you don’t already know what the pink envelope lottery is.

In most states, antlerless deer licenses, commonly called “doe tags”, are sold over-the-counter at any retail establishment which sells hunting licenses or are available online from that particular state’s fish & wildlife department. Here in PA, we do things a little differently, since the PA Game Commission (PGC) proactively uses the allocation of antlerless deer tags by Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) as a tool to adjust the desired deer harvest each year to match available habitat carrying capacity. Through research and experience, the PGC has learned one antlerless deer is typically harvested by a hunter for every four antlerless licenses issued. If for example, their desired goal is to have 10,000 antlerless deer harvested across the multiple counties comprising a particular WMU, then they know they’ll have to allocate 40,000 antlerless licenses to PA deer hunters to achieve that harvest. Based on historical precedent and practical feasibility, the county treasurer’s offices have become the points-of-sale where PA deer hunters purchase their annual PA antlerless deer license(s) and the means to do so is by applying through a “first come, first served” mail-in lottery system where the required applications must only be submitted in PGC-issued pink envelopes, which hunters receive when they purchase their new PA 2021-22 hunting license.

Now that you know what the pink envelope lottery is, here are the critical upcoming dates for the 2021 application process. This is also a not-so-subtle reminder for PA deer hunters who have procrastinated in purchasing their new PA 2021-22 hunting license, since they went on sale June 15, 2021 and were effective July 1, 2021. Now’s the time to go get your new hunting license, if you want a good crack at your first choice in WMU’s for a doe tag! Mon., July 12, is the first day antlerless license applications will be accepted by county treasurer’s offices for PA RESIDENTS ONLY. If you stand by any Post Office or mailbox on July 9, 10, or 11; you’ll witness the steady stream of pink envelopes getting dropped off by hopeful hunters. One week later, Mon., July 19, is the first day antlerless license applications will be accepted from Nonresidents, and it’s typically within a day or two some of the most coveted WMUs, like 2H, sell out. (Lessons Learned: If you’re a PA resident, get your 2H application in well before Nonresident antlerless licenses go on sale July 19; while, if you’re a nonresident, make sure your 2H application arrives at a county treasurer’s office on July 19 and keep you fingers crossed it gets opened early from the stack of pink envelopes.) Two weeks later, the 1st round of Unsold antlerless licenses opens on Mon., August 2, to both residents and nonresidents. Followed by the 2nd round of Unsold antlerless license applications being accepted on Mon., Aug. 16, 2021. The PA 2021-22 Hunting & Trapping Digest, which every hunter receives when they purchase their new PA hunting license, provides clear details on the pink envelope antlerless license application process on Pages 27-29, which every applicant needs to read and follow closely. Page 29 provides a breakdown of the 2021-22 antlerless deer license allocation by WMU (showing whether it increased, decreased, or remained the same from last year); in addition to the critical date when each WMU sold out last year. These sell out dates are good-to-know since “gamesmanship” becomes involved if your desire is to obtain multiple doe tags in multiple WMUs.

There are some significant changes in the PA antlerless application process for 2021-22. Hunters statewide can now hold up to a maximum of six unfilled antlerless deer licenses at a time. While this will affect very few hunters, in the past, hunters who desired could obtain unlimited doe tags for more urban areas, specifically WMUS 2B, 5C, & 5D. Starting this year, hunters must fill an antlerless license to purchase additional remaining antlerless licenses on a one-for-one basis to remain maxed out at six unfilled tags. Next week, we’ll discuss other PA antlerless license changes and how you can potentially help those in need through your 2021-22 deer hunting efforts! God Bless, Be Safe, and Great Outdoors!