Spotlighting deer is illegal when hunting, but the practice is legal — and beloved by many hunters — in Pennsylvania. Recreational spotlighting, known as “spotting,” is a common practice by hunters, kids, and families who enjoy looking for wildlife at night.

The problem, according to Rich Palmer, director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Bureau of Wildlife Protection, is that poachers also use bright lights to spot and shoot deer at night, and it’s difficult for wildlife law enforcement officers to determine if a light is being used simple for spotting, or for poaching. Some wonder if it’s time to ban spotlighting altogether.

“Poachers are especially tempted by large-racked bucks, which are in bigger supply these days because of antler restrictions. Whether there are more poachers now than before, it’s hard to say. But certainly the extra large-racked deer are attractive to a certain element.”

It’s legal until 11 p.m. year-round, except for those times when the two-week firearms deer season is open, and when extended firearms deer seasons are open in certain wildlife management units.

You can’t have a firearm or bow in your vehicle when you’re spotting at any time, and it’s always illegal to shine your light on livestock, houses and other buildings and photoelectric cell.

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Photo by: OutdoorHub

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Shannon Rikard
Shannon Rikard is a freelance writer and photographer with a passion for conservation and wedding and portrait photography. The Archery Trade Association and National Wild Turkey Federation have published her work. A self-professed word geek, she enjoys Wheel of Fortune, crossword puzzles, and finding a dynamite synonym to illustrate any point. After starting her career in public relations with a national conservation organization, she ventured out on her own with Copper Door Studios.