Area hunters wait to see if they’ve been awarded an elk license

Last updated: July 29. 2014 11:45PM - 679 Views
By - tvenesky@civitasmedia.com

It's a waiting game for area hunters to see if they're lucky enough to win an elk license to be able to take part in an elk hunt. The drawing will be held Aug. 16 in Benezette as part of the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Elk Expo.
It's a waiting game for area hunters to see if they're lucky enough to win an elk license to be able to take part in an elk hunt. The drawing will be held Aug. 16 in Benezette as part of the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Elk Expo.
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While the deadline to apply for the elk license drawing is only a day away, there’s still time to enter.

Applications can be submitted online at the Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.state.pa.us. Perhaps the easiest way to submit an online application is by clicking on the “Elk Hunting” icon on the website’s homepage.

Applicants must pay a $10.70 non-refundable application fee to be included in the drawing. Those applying for an elk license can choose either an antlered or antlerless elk license, or they may select either-sex on their application. For those who select “antlered only,” if they are drawn after the antlered licenses are allocated, they will not receive an elk license. For those who do receive an antlered elk license, they will not be permitted to re-apply for future elk hunting opportunities for five years. However, those who received an antlerless elk license in any of the previous hunts may submit an application this year.

Applicants also have the opportunity to identify their elk hunt zone preference, or they may select “NP” (no preference). If drawn and their preferred hunt zone is filled, applicants will be assigned a specific zone by the Game Commission.

The Aug. 16 drawing is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Plans are in place to webcast the drawing, with live streaming video available through the Game Commission’s website. Those who can neither attend nor watch the drawing can check the status of their applications online.

To find out the status of an application, go to the Game Commission website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), and click on the blue “Buy a License” box in the upper right corner of the homepage. Click on the “Purchase License Permit and or Application/Replace License and or Permit” option, which includes the ability to “Check on the status of any Lottery Application,” scroll down and click on the “Start Here” button at the bottom of the page. At this page, choose one of the identification options below to check your records, fill in the necessary information and click on the “Continue” button. Click on the appropriate residency status, which will display your current personal information. At the bottom of the page, choose the “Check on the status of any Lottery Application” button, and then hit “Continue.”

By law, only one application is permitted per person per year, and the Pennsylvania Automated License System will prohibit an individual from submitting more than one application.

In addition to the 108 elk licenses to be awarded by lottery Aug. 16, an additional bull elk license will be raffled off Aug. 17.

And the raffle’s winner not only will receive an extended opportunity to hunt anywhere on Pennsylvania’s elk range, but will receive a fully-guided hunt filmed by a professional crew and, if the hunt is successful, the trophy will be mounted free of charge.

Chances for the Elk Conservation Raffle cost $25 each, or six chances may be purchased for $100, but there is no limit on the number of chances that may be purchased.

And all proceeds from the raffle will stay in Pennsylvania to be used among other things to improve habitat for the state’s elk.

The Keystone Elk Country Alliance (KECA), in partnership with the Pennsylvania Game Commission will conduct the raffle, which is authorized by a newly passed state law – House Bill 2169 authored by state Rep. Matt Gabler, R-Clearfield and Elk counties.

The raffle winner may not transfer the elk-hunting opportunity to another party. A Pennsylvania general hunting license, as well as an elk hunting license is needed to participate in the hunt. The license holder also is subject to a background check, and prior game-law violations might prevent the license from being awarded.

Pennsylvania Elk Conservation Raffle tickets may be purchased several ways. They can be purchased online by midnight Aug. 16 at KECA’s website; www.ExperienceElkCountry.com, with payment made by credit card via PayPal. They also can be purchased at the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Elk Expo or at the Elk Country Visitor Center.

Purchased ticket stubs must be postmarked and returned by Aug. 11, if mailed to KECA.

The winner of the Pennsylvania Elk Conservation Raffle will be selected during a public drawing held at the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Elk Expo on Aug. 17 at the Elk Country Visitor Center. The winner does not need to attend the drawing to win.

It’s something coveted by many hunters across Pennsylvania, and a select few will find out in two weeks if they were lucky enough to be chosen.

The deadline to enter the annual drawing for licenses for Pennsylvania’s 2014 elk hunt is July 31 – about a month earlier than in previous years. The drawing also has been moved to an earlier date, and a new location. It will be held Aug. 16 in Benezette as part of the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Elk Expo.

And as usual, there will be plenty of people hoping luck is on their side.

“It really generates national interest and we get a lot of calls about it in the days leading up to the drawing,” said Pennsylvania Game Commission spokesman Joe Kosack. “You can basically go on a elk hunt in Pennsylvania and have a chance at a trophy bull at a pretty affordable price.”

Over the last four years, the number of elk license drawing applicants has increased, from 18,253 in 2010 to approximately 23,000 last year.

Fortunately, the number of licenses issued by the PGC has gone up as well. This year the agency will award 108 licenses (27 antlered, 81 antlerless), up from the 86 licenses issued last year.

When the agency held its first elk hunt in 2001, more than 50,000 hunters applied for one of the 30 licenses allocated. That figure dropped to 31,789 the next year and has hovered near the 20,000 mark since 2005. Kosack attributed the slight increase in applicants last year to the agency’s PALS computer system, which allow hunters to see how many preference points they have accumulated. A preference point is awarded to every applicant each year they are not drawn, and there is no limit as to how many they can accumulate. Preference points increase the number of chances an applicant receives in each drawing, and Kosack said they do work.

“Those people who have the preference points are selected more,” he said. “It is working for them.”

While the chances of drawing an elk license may be a bit slim, the odds of bagging an elk aren’t. In all but two years since the elk hunt was implemented, the harvest success rate has been above 80 percent. For bull elk, the harvest rate hit 100 percent for six years.

The state’s elk population numbers more than 800 and the season runs from Nov. 3-8 and Nov. 10-15 in designated areas.

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