Simply put, it was a very good year for those fortunate enough to draw a tag in the random drawing held by the Pennsylvania Game Commission for this month's elk season.
Of the 86 hunters who were awarded tags in the Friday, Sept. 13, drawing at PGC headquarters at Harrisburg, 72 were successful during the elk season held Monday-Saturday, Nov. 4-9. All of the 26 hunters who drew a bull tag were successful in taking an antlered elk.
Approximately 23,000 hunters applied this year for a chance at an elk license, and the first 26 applicants selected in the drawing were awarded an antlered elk license. Applicants were then selected for antlerless licenses, unless they specified they wanted an antlered tag only.
Of the 26 bulls taken, 14 were estimated to have a live weigh of 700 pounds or more, with the heaviest bull taken in this year's hunt estimated at more than 847 pounds. It had a 6x7 rack that had a Boone & Crockett green score of 340 inches.
Jeff Trought of Muncy took the largest bull in terms of the number of points, shooting one with an 8x8 rack the opening day of the season. That bull weighed an estimated 676 pounds and its rack initially scored 389 Boone & Crockett points.
Tom Schneider of Conshohocken shot a 7x7 bull that had the highest Boone & Crockett score of 403. It had an estimated live weight of 724 pounds.
Other large bulls taken were a 7x7 weighing 811 pounds by Don Christy of Hermitage, a 7x6 weighing 802 pounds by Don Campbell of Butler, a 7x7 weighing 793 pounds by Bill Gifford of Catawissa, a 6x7 weighing 785 pounds by Ed Thomas of Marianna, a 6x6 weighing 784 pounds by Mark Kopar of Mars, a 7x7 weighing 775 pounds by Randolph Caldwell of Export, and a 6x6 weighing 775 pounds by Ron Wildfire of Kersey.
Tim Mazol of Danville took the heaviest antlerless elk, which had an estimated live weight of 621 pounds. In total, 10 of the antlerless elk taken had an estimated live weight of 500 pounds or more.
By far, hunters had their best success on opening day, taking a total of 33 elk. Of those, 25 of the 26 bull tags were filled.
"Our annual elk hunt has become quite a tradition here in Pennsylvania and it's a hunting opportunity we're proud to provide," PGC executive director Carl Roe said. "The fact we've been able to expand the hunt in recent years is a testament to the health and management of our elk herd.
"Hunts like this year's are something to get excited about, and congratulations to all of the hunters who took part in the season. For those still awaiting their chance, rest assured more great elk hunting opportunities await in 2014."
Because of confidentially laws, the PGC is prevented from releasing information about applicants who successfully draw an elk tag unless they consent to having their names or other information released. Information on successful hunters not signing and submitting a consent form prior to the hunt is not released.