SNYDER: Pennsylvania deer hunters have lots of options

ANDY SNYDER, 505-5403/@ydsports
  • There are just a couple of weeks until Pennsylvania's rifle deer season opens.
  • There are plenty of places to hunt for the state's deer hunters.
  • In many cases, hunters simply need to ask permission from private land owners.

This is the time of the year when a lot of hunters panic

With just a few short weeks until the start of deer season, they've realized there's no time left and they’ve got nowhere to hunt.

The “lack of opportunity” is one of the biggest complaints I hear from hunters, especially young hunters. Fortunately, it’s a problem that’s easy to overcome.

I will admit, it’s not like the old days, where blaze orange was a welcome sight on just about any farm. But the situation is not nearly as dire as many want to believe. It simply takes a little work.

The first step to getting access to land is the simplest. Ask. Knock on the door, be polite and ask permission. If the answer is no, maybe the landowner knows a neighbor who wants a few extra hunters. Like so much in this world, networking plays a key role in finding land to hunt. It takes work. Don’t trespass and expect the landowner to welcome you with open arms. That’s a recipe for trouble.

Pennsylvania is hunter friendly: But what if you ask every landowner in the county and still can’t find a tree to hang your stand? No problem. Pennsylvania is one of the most hunter-friendly states in the country.

For example, there are more than 2.2 million acres of state forest land and 117 state parks open to hunting. On top of that, we can add 1.4 million acres of game lands maintained entirely for hunters by the Game Commission. Right here in York County we’ve got access to hundreds more acres thanks to five county parks that are open to hunting.

Public land has undeserved bad reputation: There's plenty of public land to chase your quarry, but it gets a bad reputation. Many hunters scoff at the idea of hunting land that’s open to anybody.

“There are no deer left on state land,” they’ll tell you.

It’s hogwash.

Public land is more of a challenge: Sure, it may be more of a challenge than taking a corn-fed buck on a suburban woodlot, but the deer are most certainly available. Each year, some real bruisers come from land that is open to anybody to hunt.  

The key to hunting success on public land is to do your homework. Don’t show up on opening day and expect to find a trophy lurking under every tree. To find them you’ll need to wear some of the sole off your boots and get off the beaten path. With time running out, you’d better do your scouting now.

Sure, it’d be great if farmers were begging us to hunt their land. In the modern world, however, that’s far from the case. That means we need to do the best with what we have.

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Simple formula works: If you want to hunt on private land, ask. If you want success on public land, put some miles on your shoes. It’s that simple.

No matter where you hunt, remember why you’re there. Enjoy your time outdoors. Take in the smells and the sounds. As long as you’re outside and doing what you enjoy, there’s nothing to complain about.

There is plenty of opportunity for everybody.

Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at