For thousands of hunters, it is once again approaching the time of the year to hope for the ultimate payoff: A Pennsylvania elk tag.
This year, hunters hoping to participate in the Pennsylvania elk season have until Sunday, Aug. 26, to submit an application through the Pennsylvania Game Commission Pennsylvania Automated License System. This can be done at any issuing agent or through the "Enter Elk Drawing" icon on the agency's homepage at www.pgc.state.pa.us  http://www.pgc.state.pa.us/  , and by law, only one application is permitted per person per year, and PALS will prohibit an individual from submitting more than one application.
Applicants must pay a $10.70 non-refundable application fee to be included in the drawing. Details on the elk season and drawing are available on pages 86-88 of the "2012-13 Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest," which is provided to license buyers and are also posted on the PGC website.
Friday, Sept. 14, at 10 a.m., the PGC will hold a public, computerized drawing in the auditorium of its Harrisburg headquarters, which will also be webcast. At that time, the agency will award the 65 elk licenses, the first 19 drawn will receive an antlered license and the next 46 drawn will receive an antlerless license.
Individuals are not required to purchase a resident or nonresident 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 either a $25 resident elk tag or $250 nonresident tag. Hunters must also view the elk hunt orientation video produced by the PGC before being permitted to purchase the elk license.
There is no cap, or limit, for the number of licenses that may be awarded to nonresidents, and individuals who applied in each year from 2003-11 and were not awarded an elk license have nine preference points heading into this year's drawing. If they submit an application this year, their name will be entered into the drawing 10 times for the nine preference points plus the point for this year's application.
As part of the preference point system established by the PGC in 2003, consecutive applications are not required to maintain previously earned preference points, but those points can be activated only in years that a hunter submits an application. For instance, if a hunter has nine preference points, but does not enter the 2012 drawing, they will not have any chances in the upcoming drawing, however, their preference points will remain on hold until they apply in a future drawing.
Once a hunter is awarded an elk license – either an antlered or antlerless elk license – the hunter's preference points will revert to zero. Additionally, hunters who want to earn a preference point for this year, but know that they would not be able to participate in the elk season if drawn, have the option of purchasing a preference point for $10.70 and continue to build their preference points.
Those applying for an elk license can choose either an antlered or antlerless elk license, or they may select either sex on their application, but those who select "antlered only" and are drawn after the antlered licenses are allocated will not receive an elk license. Those who do receive an antlered elk license 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 PGC.