Know the rules: Hunting law protects you

Most hunters, or at least the responsible ones, know their game laws before they head into the woods each season. Hunting times, locations, and bag limits are important, but there are some additional laws that protect hunters that some folks are not aware of.

Unfortunately, I hear more and more stories on a regular basis about hunters having their outing interrupted by someone who doesn’t like hunting. People who bang pots and pans and blow air horns nearby to scare away the game in which they pursue. People waking into their hunting areas with dogs and yelling directly at the hunter for doing something that is completely legal.

This person’s dislike for hunting usually travels much deeper and lands somewhere along the lines of an incredible lack of understanding of what an outdoorsman or woman is and what they do. They become so engrossed in their disdain for it that they feel their only option is to make an attempt to ruin a hunter’s time in the woods.

Luckily for Pennsylvania hunters and many other outdoorsman across the nation, this type of behavior toward hunters isn’t just morally and ethically wrong, it’s illegal. I was initially going to include just a brief summary of the law, however, it is better perceived by showing the law in its entirety. So, how are your rights as a hunter protected, you may ask? Insert Pennsylvania Hunter Harassment Law here:

(a) General rule. — Except as otherwise provided in this title, it is unlawful for another person at the location where the activity is taking place to intentionally obstruct or interfere with the lawful taking of wildlife or other activities permitted by this title.

(a.1) Activities which violate section. — A person violates this section when he or she intentionally or knowingly:

(1) drives or disturbs wildlife for the purpose of disrupting the lawful taking of wildlife where another person is engaged in the process of lawfully taking wildlife or other permitted activities;

(2) blocks, impedes or otherwise harasses another person who is engaged in the process of lawfully taking wildlife or other permitted activities;

(3) uses natural or artificial visual, aural, olfactory or physical stimuli to affect wildlife behavior in order to hinder or prevent the lawful taking of wildlife or other permitted activities;

(4) creates or erects barriers with the intent to deny ingress or egress to areas where the lawful taking of wildlife or other permitted activities may occur;

(5) interjects himself into the line of fire;

(6) affects the condition or placement of personal or public property intended for use in the lawful taking of wildlife or other permitted activities in order to impair its usefulness or prevent its use;

(7) enters or remains upon public lands or upon private lands without permission of the owner or their agent, with intent to violate this section; or

(8) fails to obey the order of any officer whose duty it is to enforce any of the laws of this Commonwealth where such officer observes any conduct which violates this section or has reasonable grounds to believe that any person intends to engage in such conduct.

(b) Enforcement and recovery of damages. — The commission or any person who is lawfully engaged in the taking, hunting or trapping of game or wildlife who is directly affected by a violation of this section may bring an action to restrain conduct declared unlawful in this section and to recover damages.

(c) Exceptions. — The conduct declared unlawful in this section does not include any activities arising from lawful activity by other land uses, including farming, mining, forestry practices, recreation or any other activities when it is evident that such activities are not intended to violate this section.

(d) Penalties. — A violation of this section is a summary offense of the second degree.

So there you have it friends. Hunters as a whole pay for a license, buy gear and contribute millions of dollars annually to conservation and to keep public access lands public. You don’t just think you have a right to be in the woods enjoying what you love to do, you actually have a right to be there and laws that protect you.

Hunt hard, hunt safe and shoot straight, friends.


John Knouse writes about the outdoors for The Sentinel.