I was reading up on Pennsylvania's hunting regulations and noticed there are different seasons for the hunting of deer with bow-and-arrow and firearms. Why is this?

I can understand hunting seasons in general, because you don't want to disrupt the mating and birthing cycles, but why does the method affect this? One kill is one kill...

4 Answers 4


I think the main reason for this is that the hunting styles are a lot different between the two. Archery hunters often don't wear orange and get very close to the their prey while gun hunters wear orange and are able to hunt at ranges of hundreds of yards.

Combining those activities at the same time increase the risk of archery hunters being shot by gun hunters.

It evens the playing field between the people who are currently hunting and keeps the archery hunters from getting irritated by all of the noise the gun hunters are making.

Often archery seasons are much longer because the chances of success are much lower.

  • 3
    As a PA hunter, they also have designated muzzle loader and flintlock seasons for people that like to hunt deer with antiquated single shot firearms. These often overlap with designated archery seasons in spots as well, but usually never with regular firearm season. I guess the thinking is that archery, muzzleloader, and flintlock hunters are all equally handicapped? Dec 2, 2016 at 17:38

One shooting the other basically. It's a safety measure.

Where I live we don't have hunting season. We hunt the whole year round. I'm a bow-hunter and I've encounter myself looking up the barrel of a rifle twice.

  • New Zealand? From Hunting in New Zealand: "Unlike most other developed countries with a hunting tradition, there are no bag-limits or seasons for hunting large game in New Zealand. Hunting in National Parks is a permitted activity. ... The duck shooting season opens in the first weekend of May and runs for 3 months.' Dec 2, 2016 at 23:01
  • Yes. You got it right. And Yes. We do have season for duck shooting but I generalised there as I don't do the duck shooting thing. :)
    – Desorder
    Dec 3, 2016 at 7:31

Hunting serves several purposes, a few of which are to:

  • Allow residents (who own public game animals) to harvest meat;
  • Follow long-held traditions;
  • Manage game populations

The two most common types of tools used in hunting are firearms and bows.

Hunters who just want to harvest meat often don't care which tool they use - to them, "One kill is one kill". They will often choose the easier tool to master, which is the firearm.

Folks that want to follow long-held traditions (held by their own ancestors or by people they admire/respect) will choose one tool or the other, based on the tradition followed.

As for managing game populations, both tools can be utilized to maximum benefit. Hunting with a rifle can be easier, provided the hunter has educated him/herself on the use of the weapon and has practiced enough to become proficient. Rifle seasons are typically short for this reason.

Hunting with a bow and arrow, on the other hand, normally requires much more knowledge of the animals, much more practice with the tool (bow), and much more knowledge and practice in woodsmanship. The hunter must get much closer to his quarry. Wild animals are very wary and usually notice a nearby hunter first, even when he wears camouflage, and sneak away without ever being seen by the hunter. Thus, success rates in archery seasons are typically much lower than firearm seasons. Therefore, game departments, using both firearm and archery seasons as management tools, usually lengthen archery seasons. Also, to give archery hunters a little extra help in areas where extra harvest will not hurt game populations (and to help hunters put meat in their freezers), archery seasons are often scheduled to coincide with the target animal's rut (breeding season), when the male animal is less wary.

As far as safety goes, many jurisdictions require the hunter to graduate a hunter safety class before hunting (in some cases, such as in Oregon, this only applies to hunters under a certain age), and/or participate in a mentoring program. Many, but not all, require the hunter to wear "hunter" orange during firearm seasons (again, this may be correlated with age, e.g. in Oregon). In Idaho, the safety class is required for all hunters (except first-timers that hunt with a mentor), and bowhunters may hunt during "any weapon" season, which is the only season you can hunt with a rifle, and are not required to wear orange.


They typically don't overlap. One factor is safety of not having both on the playing field at the same time. Another factor is give the archer a better chance. Deer are not stupid. They hear bang and they go into hiding and go high (if they have high ground). You can scout two weeks prior to hunting season and see lot of deer. Once gun season starts they are a lot harder to find. Where I grew up the game department would break up large herds by plane prior to gun season but would leave them be for early bow season.


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