HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Game Commission has started accepting applications from those interested in entering the public drawing for one of 45 elk hunting licenses (17 antlered and 28 antlerless) to be made available for the Nov. 3-8 elk season. The public drawing is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 20, and will be conducted as part of the 2008 Elk Expo.
To better serve its customers, the Game Commission has enabled hunters to complete and submit applications online through the agency’s Web site. Just click on “2008 Elk Application” in the center of the homepage and then “Apply Online.”
“Completing applications online guarantees hunters that their application was received and that they will be included in the public drawing, and reduces concerns about lost mail or late arrivals,” said Carl G. Roe, Game Commission executive director. “And, in addition to cutting the agency’s administrative costs, those filing online reduce the chance of having their application declared ineligible, because the filing system notifies individuals who attempt to submit an incomplete application.”
A $10 non-refundable fee must be submitted with the application. Online applications must be accompanied by a credit card payment (VISA, MasterCard, Discover or American Express accepted), and must be submitted by Aug. 29.
For those who prefer to complete a mail-in form, the agency also has posted a printable application on its website. In addition, an application will be included in the 2008-09 Pennsylvania Digest of Hunting and Trapping Regulations, which is provided to each license buyer.
Forms submitted through the mail must be accompanied by a check or money order (do not send cash) for $10 made payable to “Pennsylvania Game Commission,” and must be received in the Game Commission’s post office box by Aug. 15. Mail-in applications must be mailed to: Pennsylvania Game Commission, Elk License Application, P.O. Box 61890, Harrisburg, PA 17106-1890.
Hunters also may complete applications over-the-counter at the Game Commission offices by Aug. 15.
“By law, only one application is permitted per person,” Roe said. “If a person submits more than one application, all of his or her applications will be declared ineligible and the individual will be subject to prosecution. All application fees are non-refundable.”
Because the application period opens before the 2008-09 hunting licenses go on sale, individuals are not required to purchase a general hunting license to apply for the drawing. However, if they are drawn for one of the elk licenses, hunters then will be required to purchase the appropriate resident or nonresident general hunting license and view an elk hunt orientation video provided by the Game Commission before being permitted to purchase the elk license. The elk license fees are $25 for residents and $250 for nonresidents.
In 2006, the Game Commission held its first September elk season in an attempt to provide farmers suffering severe crop damage relief by allowing hunters an opportunity to harvest the animals. However, after two seasons, 20 hunters harvested only four elk due to the high proportion of private property and very limited hunter access to this property.
Despite extensions approved, hunters continued to record their dissatisfaction with the hunt, and farmers continued to endure damages. So, in January, the Board of Game Commissioners voted to drop further September elk hunts beyond the previously-approved hunt set for Sept. 1-27, 2008, due to limited success and hunter satisfaction. Those selected for the 10 licenses – two either sex licenses and eight antlerless elk licenses – were drawn as part of the public drawing held on Sept. 14, 2007.
Those previously awarded antlered or “either sex” elk licenses are not eligible to apply for five license years from the year in which they were selected. All others, including those hunters awarded antlerless elk licenses in the previous hunts, are eligible to apply for this year’s elk hunt.
Those applying for an elk license will have the option to indicate their choice for either an antlered or antlerless elk license, or they may select “no preference.” For those who select “antlered only,” if they are drawn after the antlered licenses are allocated, they will not receive an elk license.
Applicants also will be given the opportunity to select a choice of elk hunt zones, or they may select “no preference.” If drawn and their elk hunt zone choice is already filled, applicants will be assigned a specific area by the Game Commission. To assist applicants in making this decision, information about the elk hunt zones is posted on the website along with the application. This information also will be included in the 2008-09 Digest.
Beginning with the 2003 hunt, unsuccessful applicants began to earn preference points toward future elk hunt drawings. To participate in the preference system, an applicant must provide his or her Social Security Number. For those who do not have a Social Security Number, call the Game Commission at 717-787-2084 for instructions.
As part of the preference system, one point is added to an applicant’s record for each year they submit an application for the elk hunt drawing and are not drawn. When a hunter with preference points applies for an elk license drawing, his or her name is added to the drawing an extra time for each preference point he or she has accumulated. For example, a person applying in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and also applies this year, will be entered six times.
Preference points are carried forward until an applicant is drawn; there is no requirement that applications be made in consecutive years to retain preference points. However, individuals must apply to have their preference points entered for a given license year.
Any hunter awarded an elk license for a given year whose military obligation prevents him or her from hunting the elk season for which the license was issued will be eligible to hunt in the next available elk season.
Hunters drawn for an elk license will receive an elk hunt orientation video that they are required to watch and share with any guide that they may hire.
Individuals, especially those who live in the elk management area or are familiar with the elk herd, may apply for a permit to serve as a guide for those who receive an elk license. Guides may provide assistance in locating, calling or tracking elk, but may not drive for or harvest elk. Guide permits will be $10 for residents and $25 for nonresidents. Permit applications may be obtained from the Game Commission’s Harrisburg headquarters. To be eligible to elk hunt guide, completed applications must be received in the Harrisburg headquarters no later than Aug. 15.
Guide permits are required for those who plan to participate in locating, calling or tracking for elk. Family members and friends accompanying the elk hunter, but not participating in the hunt, do not need to obtain an elk guide permit.
Licensed elk hunters may choose to use a guide who has been properly permitted, although it is not a requirement to do so. Driving or herding of elk is illegal.
For more information on Pennsylvania’s elk herd, visit the agency’s Web site, choose “Hunting,” then click on the elk photo.