Bow hunting in Philly could begin as soon as this fall

A site in the far northeast could be used for bow hunting later this fall under regulations from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Benjamin Rush State Park entrance sign

An extension of Benjamin Rush State Park will soon be used for hunting. (Google Maps)

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A newly acquired piece of property on the edge of Philadelphia will become Pennsylvania’s latest hunting grounds later this year.

The new state game lands are part of a recently acquired extension of Benjamin Rush State Park in the Somerton section of Philadelphia, near the city limits. The Pennsylvania Game Commission said a deer hunt will be conducted there.

“What we are doing is basically incorporating the 18 acres of state game lands that were recently acquired into their hunt program,” said Dustin Stoner with the PGC. “Their hunt program is highly regulated. They have a drawing and they select [a] few certain hunters to go in and harvest deer.”

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The hunt would be limited to archers who would use tree stands, giving them a better view up in the trees.

“So that when they discharge their crossbow or they use their bow and shoot an arrow, the arrow’s trajectory carries the arrow to the ground. You know, if it misses the target, then the arrow has a safe backstop,” Stoner said.

Neighborhood residents have expressed opposition to the program. Members of the Somerton Civic Association wrote to the Game Commission earlier this month, calling for the planned hunt to be postponed indefinitely.

“Its use by neighbors who include some too young to look out for their own safety make it an unwise location to open to hunting,” SCA president Chris Bordelon wrote. “Local residents would prefer to see the land owned by a public agency other than the Game Commission that would maintain it permanently as a passive-use park with a walking path and benches and would cut the grass regularly.”

While this would be the first state sanctioned hunt on the property, it’s likely not the first time there has been hunting on the property.

“When we acquired the land last fall and looked around, we noticed that there were some areas in there where you could see that there had been some hunting activity in their prior,” Stoner said. “Not sure who, but it was evident that there was some hunting activity there prior to our acquisition of the property, and to the best of our knowledge there hadn’t been any conflict or concerns with anyone in the immediate area from any of the residents.”

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The hunts are slated to begin Sept. 21 and will be conducted over seven two-week periods through early 2025.

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