With the start of antlerless deer license sales last week, Pennsylvania hunters are now digging into the 2021-22 licenses and the new Hunt Fish PA licensing system.
Things are new. Things are a little different. It’s understandable that there are some bumps in the road.
Hunt Fish PA replaces the Pennsylvania Automated Licensing System (PALS) that had been in place for the past decade.
It’s run by an outside firm called NIC Inc., which has lots of experience in online hunting/fishing license sales.
The company has worked with 11 states in the past, including Wisconsin, Mississippi and Alabama.
The most noticeable difference hunters are seeing right up front is the new licenses are now green, instead of yellow.
If you look closely at the turkey and deer harvest tags included with your license purchase, you will notice another new feature.
In the area where you used to write the date of your kill, there’s now a block of text stating “Cut date on back.”
Flip the tag over and you’ll see the months of the year separated by blocks across the top, as well as numbered blocks from 1-31 covering two sides.
Like hunters in many Western states, Pennsylvania hunters going forward will notch out the month and number corresponding with the day they harvest game.
“One consideration in making this change here is that notching the tag with the date reduces the amount of information that must be filled in with ink,” said Travis Lau, Pennsylvania Game Commission spokesman.
“On a cold or wet day, your pen might not want to cooperate. Now there’s one less thing to fill out. And most hunters will have their knives handy when they are filling out a tag anyway.
“But there also are law-enforcement considerations. If a tag is used and notched, it’s extremely difficult thereafter for a lawbreaker to pass it off as valid.”
The first round of antlerless license sales got off to a slow start last Monday.
Lancaster County Treasurer Amber Martin had dedicated a team of full- and part-time employees in her office to process the annual deluge of pink envelopes that contain doe-tag applications.
Martin’s office the past several years has processed more antlerless licenses than any other county treasurer’s office in Pennsylvania.
According to Lau, the electronic licensing system experienced a “system-wide slowness” Monday that bogged down treasurer’s offices like Lancaster’s.
“Just irritating because we have a full staff and part-timers to get this done as quickly as possible, and we are slowed down by a very slow licensing system,” Martin said.
Lau said antlerless license sales were able to plod along as a solution to the slow-down was investigated.
Hunters looking to see if they got their first choice in tags discovered a change to the Game Commission website that had some stumped for a bit.
Under PALS, there was a hyperlink hunters could click on which would take them to the portal that allowed them to check to see if they had been awarded an antlerless license or not.
At the start of the week, the Game Commission’s site simply stated that the, “The process is changing for the 2021-22 license year.”
But there was no other instruction.
By Tuesday, the Game Commission had updated the site to note that hunters can log into their individual profiles on the Hunt Fish PA system at huntfish.pa.gov.
Here, you can navigate to your license purchase history just like you could through PALS, although the look is different as you navigate through the pages.
You can do this whether you bought your hunting license online or not.
Eventually, you will be able to navigate to a page that lists your “Purchase History,” and you can see all the tags you have that are active as well as all the special permissions – like archery license – that you hold.
And when an antlerless license is issued by a county treasurer, it will appear in your purchase history as an active tag awarded to you.
If you want to check to see how many tags remain unsold in any of the state’s 23 Wildlife Management Units, simply go to the huntfish.pa.gov homepage and click on “Wildlife Quota” on the upper tab.
I realize “Wildlife Quota” is not really a term we use in talking about doe tags here in Pennsylvania, but that’s where this information is kept.
As of late last week, all WMUs still had tags remaining, although some allocations were dwindling.
WMU 2H, which had the lowest allocation at 9,000 tags, had fewer than 5,000 remaining.
WMU 5B, which covers Lancaster County, had just over 57,000 of its 60,000 total allocation remaining.
The next round of doe-tag sales for Pennsylvania residents begins Aug. 2, with the following round beginning Aug. 16.
The deadline to apply for a Pennsylvania elk license is July 31.
This is going to be a big year for elk hunting in Pennsylvania. The number of tags is up, with 56 of the total 187 elk licenses earmarked for bulls.
And 10 of those bull tags will be specially allocated for a January 1-8 hunt.
The other elk seasons this year will be archery, Sept. 11-25, and the general hunt from Nov. 1-6.
Apply for the elk lottery at any license dealer or online at huntfish.pa.gov. The drawing to award licenses for the upcoming season will be held Aug. 21 at the Elk Country Visitor Center in Elk County.
Hunters can check to see if they drew an elk license under their profile at huntfish.pa.gov, just like they’d check the status of antlerless deer license applications.