Dave Muscia | Mossy Oak ProStaff
Private land hunting in Pennsylvania always has been difficult. Generally, if your family doesn’t own private hunting or farm land you can hunt, if you don’t know somebody who has private land to hunt who will let you hunt there, or if you haven’t gone out well before the season and convinced a landowner that you’re an ethical hunter and you'd do all you can to help him take care of his property, then getting to hunt on private Pennsylvania land during deer season is almost impossible.
In recent years, Pennsylvania’s Game Commission has had some farms that are considered Red Tag farms. If you sign up to hunt that property, the land is regulated, and the Game Commission works with the farmer to allow more public access to private lands. There's not many of those Red Tag farms where people can hunt yet.
Because I've lived all my life in Washington County, I have friends who own private property, and they allow me to hunt there. You can lease some land primarily in the northern section of the state. But for the most part, leasing land to hunt on has not really exploded in Pennsylvania like it has in Ohio. So, there's only a very small chance of leasing good hunting land in Pennsylvania. You either have to have private land to hunt, or you're forced to hunt public land.
Most landowners in Pennsylvania only allow their family members and friends to hunt their property during gun/deer season. Therefore, finding private land to hunt as a bowhunter is much easier than finding private land to hunt as a gun hunter. A friend and I have a 130-acre piece of property, and the two of us are the only hunters allowed to hunt there during bow season. I try to focus my entire hunting season on bowhunting. But if I don’t take a deer during bow season, I will hunt public lands during gun season. So, if you're thinking about hunting Pennsylvania, your best odds for locating an older-age-class-buck to hunt either will be on private or public lands during bow season.