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.