Tens of thousands of Pennsylvania hunters dream of their chance to hunt elk, right here in the Keystone State.
But if you’re not among the lucky recipients of an elk license, a chance awarded by lottery in August, it’s easy enough to forget about the season by the time it arrives. After all, it’s prime time in Penn’s Woods, with hunters likely shorter on time than opportunities.
But the general elk season is nearly here, beginning Monday, Oct. 31 and ending Saturday, Nov. 5.
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 around the first of the year – the general season remains the biggest in terms of participation, with more than half of available elk licenses being allocated to the general season.
This year, 101 of the 178 Pennsylvania elk licenses are valid for the general season. Of those, 31 hunters will be hunting antlered elk, or bulls, and 70 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.
A successful hunter must attach the tag that comes with a license to the ear of an elk immediately after harvest and before the carcass is moved. In addition, within 24 hours, each hunter who harvests an elk must take it, along with his or her hunting license and elk license, to the Game Commission check station, where the elk are weighed and samples are collected to test for Chronic Wasting Disease, brucellosis and tuberculosis. The elk check station is located at the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day of the season.
Following completion of the general elk season, 48 hunters will participate in late season that runs from Dec. 31 through Jan. 7, 2023. Fifteen of those hunters have licenses for antlered elk, 33 for antlerless.
Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans thanked all who participated in Pennsylvania’s annual elk-license drawing – this year more than 56,000 people – and wished good luck to those hunters who were drawn for 2022-23 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 before the July 31 deadline each year. For those who will be setting out next week on unforgettable Pennsylvania elk hunts, good luck. It’s an experience you’ll always treasure.”