Three hunters wearing safety vests walk into the autumn trail.

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge is open for a limited public recreational archery hunting program held within the existing Pennsylvania archery deer season. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Refuge strives to provide quality educational and outdoor recreation programs including hunting experiences for youth and adults who may not have the opportunity to hunt elsewhere. 

Antlerless deer permits will be made available via a lottery to the following Pennsylvania Game Commission-defined licensed groups: Mentored Youth (Ages 12 -16 with little or no Hunting Experience); Mentored Adult (Ages 17 years and older with little or no Hunting Experience); Junior Hunter (Age 12-16 year old Junior License Holders); Active Duty Military; Veterans; and People with Disabilities. All participants must possess a valid refuge hunting special use permit and comply with all terms and conditions.

The mentored archery deer hunt provides individuals age 12 and over with little to no hunting experience an opportunity to participate in a managed deer hunt under the guidance of trained mentors on the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. Along with our partners, the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) and National Deer Association (NDA), we will teach participants about the conservation history of hunting, deer biology and habitat, crossbow instruction, hunting safety and ethics, as well as, field game care and meat processing. Crossbows and ground blinds will be provided. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. 

The lottery application period for the 2023 - 2024 Mentored Archery Deer Hunt at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge and Ben Rush State Park is closed. The 2024 - 2025 Mentored Archery Deer Hunt lottery application will be open in August 2024. For updates, please return to this page or follow us on Facebook and Instagram @JohnHeinzNWR.

Please email for more information and if you would like to be considered to participate as a mentor.

***Subject to change based on COVID-19 developments and CDC guideline updates***