According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, this past elk hunting season was a successful one for 131 out of 178 hunters who won an elk hunting permit during last year’s elk lottery.
“They definitely did well,” said Jeremy Banfield, the PGCs elk biologist. “They did better in the late season (that ended Jan. 7) than in the general season, he added.
In fact, one elk broke the state archery record. Back in 2019, the PGC created an archery-only season and an Armstrong County hunter is now the record holder for a non-typical archery bull.
Dave Kammerdiener of Templeton, arrowed a 7 by 11-point bull in Zone 10 with his crossbow. Its antler measured 446 inches. This compares to largest elk ever taken in Pennsylvania that measured 455 inches on a non-typical bull shot with a rifle in 2020 by Duane Kramer of Bellington, Washington.
As a recap for the archery season, 12 of the 14 bulls and seven of the 15 cow tags were filled. In the general season, 28 of the 31 bull hunters and 43 of the 70 cow hunters were successful. And in the late season, all 15 of the bull elk hunters and 26 of the 33 cow hunters managed to take a trophy animal.
Banfield said it was a typical year as the elk all appeared to be healthy, and the PGC hasn’t received any positive tests for diseases.
The elk biologist is working on a plan that would provide hunters more time to plan their hunts and scout for elk. And this coincides with when the elk licenses are awarded each year at the Elk Expo that’s organized by the Keystone Elk County Alliance, in mid-August. This year, the event is scheduled for July 29-30 which should give the winners of the elk lottery a couple of added weeks to scout and or secure a guide. Back in the 2022 season, the Elk Expo was held Aug. 20-21, less than a month before the elk season opened.
In addition, Banfield has proposed to the Game Commission board of commissioners to move the two-week archery elk season ahead one week. This past year it started on Sept. 10, so he’s proposing it be held Sept. 16-30. The general season where rifles are permitted will be Oct. 30-Nov. 4, and the late season is scheduled for Dec. 30-Jan. 6.
Banfield is also planning to conduct an aerial survey to gauge the elk population that was estimated at 1,300 to 1,400 animals last year. The information from the aerial survey and other data will be used to determine how many hunting tags will be offered this year. Banfield believes the number will be again close to 178 like last year. The seasons are expected to be set in April and at that time the number of tags will be determined for the lottery.
The cost to apply for an elk tag is $11.97, and it can be purchased for all three seasons. Last year, the agency received 104,250 applications for the 178 elk tags. The revenue from the applications was about $1.25 million the past season and the money goes, says the PGC, into the agencies general fund to cover habitat improvements. “The lottery is the main source of revenue for the elk program,” said Banfield.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.