Here’s a reminder for hunters as the PA rifle deer season is just a few days away. If you harvest a deer, you’re required to tag it and now if you harvest it from a tree stand that was left on state game lands or other properties controlled by the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), that stand must be tagged too. This new regulation applies to all state game lands, as well as private lands enrolled in the Hunter Access program. Lands enrolled in the Hunter Access program might be known as Forest Game, Farm Game or Safety Zone access properties. (All of these properties can be found on the State Game Lands Mapping Center at the Game Commission’s website.)
The idea behind the new regulations to require tree stands and blinds to be marked with information identifying their owners serves to address the problem of the stands too often becoming permanent fixtures on some properties. When stands are placed out earlier than allowed on state game lands and Hunter Access properties, or are not removed as required following the close of the final deer season, the stands may be taken down by Game Commission personnel. But without a way to contact the owner, the stands typically get stored and eventually disposed of if the owner does not come forward.
Requiring all stands and blinds left on state game lands and Hunter Access properties be tagged provides the Game Commission with a way to contact the owners if stands are placed too early or left out too long.
This new regulation now requires any tree stand or blind left overnight or longer on state game lands or Hunter Access properties be marked with a durable tag bearing information that identifies its owner. Stands or blinds must be conspicuously marked with a durable and legible identification tag that includes either the owner’s first and last name and legal home address, the CID number appearing on the owner’s hunting license, or a number issued by the Game Commission to the stand or blind owner. Any of the three methods of identifying the owner is acceptable.
A hunter could engrave his or her CID number onto a metal tag and wire it to the stand or ladder, or do the same with a painted plastic tag. Unique numbers identifying the stand or blind owner can be obtained at The Outdoor Shop on the Game Commission’s website. There is no cost to obtain a number.
Also, stands and blinds may be placed out no earlier than two weeks before the first deer season in the wildlife management unit (WMU) being hunted, and they must be removed no later than two weeks after the close of the last deer season in that WMU. Violating the requirement to tag tree stands and blinds left on Game Commission-controlled property is punishable by a fine up to $200.
Plus, it is unlawful to construct, place, maintain, occupy, use, leave or abandon any structures or other tangible property on State Game Lands. And it is unlawful to destroy any tree or property while putting up or removing a stand or a blind or using a tree stand which can cause tree damage.
It may also be time for the PGC to enact a new rule for hunter safety. Just like it has for many hunting laws which have safety in mind, the PGC should require hunters to wear a safety harness when leaving the ground to get into or out of a tree stand of any kind.
Many hunters have been injured climbing into and out of tree stands. There are many affordable options for all types of stands which would secure the well-being of hunters and prevent falls.
Many hunters totally distrust the PGC no matter what it tries to do. Some hunters say that requiring such safety equipment is bull and that they have the right to climb with or without a harness. Some may never follow this new safety rule even if it became law. But safety should always be the main priority for hunters!