Area man gets elk

Most of us around here can probably say that seeing deer is almost as common as sighting chipmunks or squirrels. But to come across an elk – I think that may be a whole ‘nother story.

So, you can imagine what Greensburg resident Dennis Henry must have thought when he zeroed in on a 792 pound antlered elk downing his trophy on Nov. 6 in Covington Township, Clearfield Township.

He was one of 33 out of the40 licensed elk hunters who harvested these animals between Nov.5 and Nov 10. In addition, between Sept. 3 and the29th, two out of 10 licensed hunters harvested these animals.

But Henry wasn’t the only hunter to cash in on big animals. There were a number of other state residents who have bragging rights. They include: Aaron Richards, of Duncannon, Perry County, 768 pounds, Nov. 5, in Gibson Township, Elk County; Keith Streightif, of Kittanning, Armstrong County, took a 723 pound on Nov. 7, in Jay Township, Elk County; Keith Quigel, of Williamsport, Lycoming County, took a 720 pound on Nov. 6, in Lumber Township, Cameron County; and Harry Rhone, of Catawissa, Columbia County, took a 707 pound on Nov. 8, in Shippen Township, Cameron County.

The heaviest antlerless elk was taken by Robert Domachowski, of Butler, Butler County, who harvested a 590 pound antlerless elk on Nov. 7, in Benezette Township, Elk County.

“Elk are one of North American’s premier big game animals,” stated Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl Roe. “Pennsylvania is privileged to offer this unique hunting opportunity, a product of successful wildlife management that helps to finance wildlife conservation and supports Pennsylvania’s rich hunting heritage.”

And to think, ever since the legislature passed a law allowing the hunting of elk back in 1996, the first hunt in nearly 70 years, sportsmen have been dreaming that their names would be picked so they may have the opportunity to hunt for these animals.

Not too long ago, in 2001, for example, 30 permits were issued from more than 50,000 applications. Over the past five years, the number of applicants has settled in at around 20,000, which is consistent with other states.

In 2005, the fifth elk season in recent years held Nov. 7-12, 20,189 hunters applied for 40 licenses (10 antlered, 30 antlerless). Hunters harvested 10 antlered and 25 antlerless elk during the season. Of the elk taken, 20 were harvested on the first day; six on the second; three on the third; one on the forth; four on the fifth; and one on the last day

Since the inception of the elk hunt, the Game Commission has utilized revenues from the first 10,000 application for habitat improvement within the elk range. This infusion of $100,000 for habitat improvement led the way in developing a partnership with DCNR and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to pool the resources in an effort to enhance even more habitat. Nearly $900,000 was raised and spent over the last three years. Nearly 900 acres of new food plots have been established, and roughly 12,000 acres of the same have been refurbished. Equipment necessary for habitat management has also been purchased.

Various sportsmen’s groups, conservancies and private individuals have also contributed to habitat projects, and private landowners are taking the initiative to improve their own land for wildlife within the elk range.

A lot has been done to improve elk management. In the last year or so, a plan has been approved as a guiding document for the next ten years. This may pave the way for expanding the elk range from 835 square miles to 3,750. Also in the horizon is continuing the September hunt in Hunt Zone 1. The Hunting and Trapping Digest outlines the borders of this area. All of this area is private property. Permission is necessary before access.

Roe stated that the early hunt was initiated “to address agricultural conflicts before crops are harvested and to allow hunters a chance to harvest the elk rather than force farmers to kill elk to protect their crops.”

“Because these elk tend to move from the agricultural land to the adjacent forested private lands during the early morning,” Roe pointed out, “elk remain well hidden and difficult to harvest, making this an extremely challenging hunt.”

He concluded that the agency will continue to review this September hunt and make recommendations to the Board in January.

Paul J. Volkmann (11/15/2007)
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