10.28.2011

2011 Pennsylvania Elk Season Nears

Foggy Morning Bull
As I write this, in only three more mornings the 2011 Pennsylvania elk season will be upon us.  With the Winslow Hill sub-herd being larger than ever, we are entering season with ten bulls and twenty cows slated to be taken from Elk Hunt Zones 2,8, 10.  I concentrate on the figures from these zones as it seems likely that a high percentage of the elk seen on Winslow Hill come from these areas--especially the bulls (cows are more likely to remain in their home range, while bulls will range further-especially during the rut..  The allocation was not increased in Zone 10 this year, but it was doubled for bulls in Zones 2, and 8. The cow allocation for Zone 2 was doubled for 2011, while it remains the same for Zones 8, and 10.

Bull Pauses From Chasing Cows
 Most will agree that there were a lot of elk on Winslow Hill during the rut, and many of them were impressive bulls, although upon close inspection it turns out that most of these ranged from 6x6s to 7x8s.  I personally did not see one of the massive, branch antlered bulls such as the bull from the late 1990s and early 2000s known as "Old One Eye", or "One Eyed Frank", or "Fred" the famous town bull at his peak.  That being said, a classically beautiful 7x8 that was seen each day during my two weeks in elk country, is very good indeed.  An experienced guide estimated that he is in the 400 class and predicted that he will be killed this year.

"One Eye" 1999: Video still capture- Canon L2 Hi-8 Camcorder
 Many of the bulls should have left the hill by now and returned to the areas where they normally live, which for a great many of them this is the Gray Hill and Spring Run areas.  Two of the largest bulls taken last year were shot in Spring Run--a 7x7 that is currently the state record typical bull, and the Crazy Legs, Jr. bull, which is why I focus on these Hunt Zones in expressing concerns about the allocations.  Perhaps the best chance for a bull's survival is if he spends the season inside someone's safety zone, or on posted property where the owner will not allow access for elk hunting.

At first glance, the ten bull allocation for these areas may not seem excessive when one considers the number of bulls seen overall, but the problem is that attention will be focused on the largest and the removal of ten large bulls from this area could severely impact the quality of bull sighted in the years to come.  In actual practice it is likely that not all hunters will hold out for a big bull.  To some a 5x5 in their sights is simply too much to pass up--especially after hunting for a day or so, but it does seem likely that most of the bull tags will be filled, as the success rate on Pennsylvania bulls usually runs in the 90%-100% range.

But so much for speculation, the allocations for this year are written in stone, the hunters have their permits and are ready to go, and the elk that will be hunted are there.  In a few short days the drama will unfold and whatever will be,will be.

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.

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