Below is a news release from the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Home to 30 chapters and more than 14,000 members, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has a long history in Pennsylvania. Dating back to 1991, RMEF and its partners completed 544 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Pennsylvania with a combined value of more than $27.6 million. These projects conserved or enhanced 28,160 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 10,189 acres.
This year, over 57,000 people applied for the chance to hunt Pennsylvania elk.
And the state’s biggest elk season is about to get underway.
The general elk season opens Monday, Oct. 30 and runs six days through Saturday, Nov. 4.
While Pennsylvania now has three separate seasons for elk – a two-week archery season in September, the general season and a late season that begins Dec. 30 – the general season is tops in participation, with half of available elk licenses used in the general season.
This year, 72 of the 144 Pennsylvania elk licenses are for the general season. Of those, 30 hunters will be hunting antlered elk, or bulls, and 42 will be hunting antlerless elk, or cows.
Elk licenses for the general season have been allocated in 12 Elk Hunt Zones, geographic elk-management units dispersed throughout the northcentral Pennsylvania elk range. Maps of the zones can be found on the elk page at www.pgc.pa.gov.
Many other hunting seasons, including archery deer and bear, and most small game and turkey seasons, occur simultaneous to the general elk season.
Hunters participating in the general elk season, in which firearms are permitted, must wear, at all times, 250 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange material on the head, chest, and back combined, visible 360 degrees. They must properly tag elk harvests and bring them to the Game Commission’s check station, where the elk are weighed, and samples are collected to test for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), brucellosis, and tuberculosis. To date CWD has not been detected in Pennsylvania elk. The elk check station is at the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day of the season.
“Every elk hunter that comes through the check station is elated, and I sincerely enjoy sharing in their excitement and try to keep the check-station experience quick, easy and enjoyable,” Game Commission elk biologist Jeremy Banfield said. “I encourage hunters and visitors to ask questions and witness firsthand an important part of how the Game Commission works to manage elk,” he added.
Real-time harvest results can be viewed at www.pgcapps.pa.gov/Harvest/Elk.
Following completion of the general elk season, 46 hunters will participate in the late season that runs from Dec. 30 through Jan. 6, 2024. Seventeen of those hunters have licenses for antlered elk, 29 for antlerless.
During 2022-23 hunters harvested 131 elk (55 bulls, 76 cows) across three seasons, with 11 bulls meeting the minimum score for inclusion in the state records. A new No. 1 bull was recorded in the typical firearms category with a score of 407-4/8 taken last year, and a new No. 1 bull in the nontypical archery category scoring 445-2/8 harvested last year is the second largest bull ever taken in Pennsylvania.
During the 2023 archery season held Sept. 16-30, 22 elk were harvested, including 17 bulls and five cows.
Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans thanked all who participated in Pennsylvania’s annual elk-license drawing – this year nearly 52,000 people applied for the general season – and wished good luck to those hunters who were drawn for 2023-24 elk licenses.
“Pennsylvania’s world-class elk provide an incredible, one-of-a-kind – and often once-in-a-lifetime – opportunity like none other in Penn’s Woods,” Burhans said. “It’s no wonder why hunters mark their calendars to be sure they submit their applications each year. For those who will be venturing forth this season to set their sights on a Pennsylvania elk, good luck. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.”
(Photo credit: Charlie Cropp)