New migratory bird regs feature expanded opportunities for doves, woodcock

Hunters will enjoy longer seasons for woodcock.

Pennsylvania’s 2018-19 migratory game bird seasons have been set.

Annual migratory game bird seasons are selected by states from frameworks established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Game Commission selections were made after reviewing last year’s season results, population survey data, and input gathered from hunters and the public.

The 2018-19 waterfowl seasons are very similar to those selected in 2017-18. However, hunters will enjoy longer seasons for doves, woodcock, and other “webless” migratory game bird species this year.

Waterfowl season highlights

Game Commission biologist Jeremy Stempka noted that the goose season restrictions enacted in northwestern Pennsylvania for the 2017-18 season will continue this year.

In a portion of western Crawford County, the September Canada goose season will run Sept. 1-15, and the daily bag limit will be one goose.

This shorter season applies to the area south of state Route 198 from the Ohio state line to intersection of state Route 18, state Route 18 south to state Route 618; state Route 618 south to U.S. Route 6; U.S. Route 6 east to U.S. Route 322/state Route 18; U.S. Route 322/state Route 18 west to the intersection of state Route 3013; and state Route 3013 south to the Crawford-Mercer County line.

The season on State Game Lands 214 remains closed.

In the rest of the Southern James Bay Population Zone in northwestern Pennsylvania, the season remains Sept. 1-25 with a daily bag limit of one goose. The bag limit restrictions do not apply to youth participating in the youth waterfowl hunting days, when regular-season regulations apply. Hunters should carefully consult the maps and descriptions at to determine the specific regulations applicable to the area they plan to hunt.

Special regulations also remain in place for the September Canada goose season in a portion of southeastern Pennsylvania. In the area of Lancaster and Lebanon counties north of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 76) and east of state Route 501 to state Route 419; south of state Route 419 to Lebanon-Berks county line; west of Lebanon-Berks county line to state Route 1053 (also known as Peartown Road and Greenville Road); and west of state Route 1053 to Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 76), the daily bag limit is one goose, with a possession limit of three geese. This restriction does not apply to youth participating in the youth waterfowl hunting days, when regular season regulations apply.

The controlled hunting areas at the Game Commission’s Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lebanon and Lancaster counties, as well as all of State Game Lands 46, will remain closed to September goose hunting to maintain harvest on the resident Canada goose flock at sustainable levels.

In the remainder of Pennsylvania (Resident Population Zone and most of the Atlantic Population Zone), the September Canada goose season runs Sept. 1-25 with a daily bag limit of eight Canada geese, and a possession limit of 24. Statewide shooting hours during the September goose season are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset, except on Sept. 15 when the season overlaps with the statewide youth waterfowl hunting day and shooting hours end at sunset.

Dates and bag limits for post-September Canada goose seasons, as well as light goose and Atlantic brant seasons, remain similar to those from 2017-18 and are listed at the end of this news release.

For ducks, season dates in all four of Pennsylvania’s established zones are similar to those selected in 2017-18, and with the exception of an increase in the daily bag limit for pintails (from one to two), overall and species-specific duck bag limits are identical to last year’s.

Similar to past years, there will be a statewide youth waterfowl hunting day in mid-September (Sept. 15) and a second youth day varying by duck zone.

To hunt waterfowl, in addition to a regular Pennsylvania hunting license, persons 16 and older must have a Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, commonly referred to as a “Duck Stamp.” It must be signed in ink across its face and possessed while hunting.

Webless migratory game bird seasons

As usual, Sept. 1 will mark the beginning of dove season statewide. The first segment of the season will run through Nov. 24. It will then re-open on Dec. 18 and run through Jan. 5.

Hunters are reminded that, through a regulation change approved by the Board of Game Commissioners in April, hunting hours are now one-half hour before sunrise to sunset throughout the entire dove season. In previous years, hunting hours during the early portion of the season did not open until noon.

For both dove-season segments the daily bag limit is 15, and the possession limit is 45.

Pennsylvania’s woodcock and common snipe seasons now have two segments. For both species, the first segment opens on Oct. 13 and closes on Nov. 24, and the second segment opens on Dec. 10 and runs through Dec. 18. Daily limits are three woodcock and eight snipe, with possession limits three times the respective daily bag limits.

Virginia and sora rail hunting will run from Sept. 1 to Nov. 21. Bag limits, singly or combined, are three daily and nine in possession. The season for king and clapper rails remains closed.

Hunting for gallinules also runs from Sept. 1 to Nov. 21, and the bag limits are three daily and nine in possession.

Migratory game bird hunters, including those afield for doves and woodcock, are required to obtain and carry a Pennsylvania migratory game bird license ($3.90 for residents, $6.90 for nonresidents), as well as a general hunting, combination or lifetime license.

Hunting hours for woodcock, snipe, rails, and gallinules are one-half hour before sunrise until sunset.

Categories: Hunting News, Waterfowl

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