Elk Season Upcoming
Inside the Outdoors, September 23
, 2011

Last Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Game Commission held a public drawing to select elk licenses for the 2011 hunting season. It had been scheduled previously, but had to be delayed because of flooding.

People who do or do not hunt may not give much thought to these animals around here because of the fact that they are not found outside our back door as are many of the different wildlife species, such as deer, bear and geese. However, if one were to see this game in person, he may stand there in awe while observing it.

According to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, “Elk are members of the deer family, closely related to moose and white-tailed deer. Adult elk weigh up to 900 pounds and are four to five feet tall at the shoulder.” That makes for a mighty big animal, pictured or by chance, seen in person.

Depending during the time of year, it may be wearing different “coats.”

“In the winter, an elk’s head, neck and legs are dark brown, while its sides and back are much lighter. Its summer coat is a deep, reddish brown color. Both sexes have heavy, dark manes extending to the brisket (breast area) and a yellowish rump patch,” the organization said.

One of the most distinguishing features about any animal is what’s displayed on or about its head. The elk is no different. Its antlers make it a standout among this type of wildlife. As the RMEF states, “Each year male elk grow antlers used for dominance displays and combat. They can weigh up to 40 pounds when bulls reach maturity at five years-old.”

Concerning their dining practices, elk live on plants, such as grass, shrubs and trees. Natural meadows, open fields and reclaimed strip-mined lands provide primary foraging areas for elk. They can be seen feeding at any of these spots both during dawn and dusk.

When the young are born either in May or June they may weigh as much (or as little, depending on what information a person is seeking) 25 to 30 pounds. The cow or female, will remain isolated with her single calf for a few week and then join the social group. “These groups will generally stay together until the next calving season,” it said.

In August, bulls ready themselves for the “rut” or breeding season that peaks in September and ends in early October. “Bulls make a low whistling sound or “bugle” during this time to challenge other bulls, maintain their harems and identify their territory,” RMEF said.

Elk, roughly four times the size of deer, will utilize evergreen forests for cover in the winter time, particularly when they are restricted by heavy snow.

One may view these animals in the town of Benezette located along State Rout 555 in Elk County, Sinnemahoning State Park and Kettle Creek State Park.

Elk hunting season runs from Oct. 31 to Nov. 5 in designated elk hunt zones and Nov. 7-12 outside of the elk management area. Only one animal per licensed hunter is permitted to be harvested. One must possess a special elk conservation tag.

In 2010, 41 elk were killed by hunters.

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It’s hard to believe that so few fishermen can be seen along the banks of Keystone State Park Lake now that summer has officially ended and we are beginning fall. Fishing is great, especially for crappies. This is the time to fish for them since their meat is firming up as opposed to the summer when it had a mushier texture.

Keep in mind, if one chooses the evenings to cast a line, do so along the banks rather than twenty to thirty feet out. Fish that stay away from the shorelines during the day come in to feed, one to three feet from the banks.

Choice of bait is somewhat crucial. Minnows or minnow or shiner imitations may be the ticket. Try using Rapala imitations, such as the 7-S, for instance. If you don’t get the crappies, other fish will hit them, too.

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It’s fact. According to the PGC, “Despite predation, more than half of the fawns born each spring are still alive come hunting season (Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest, July 1, 2010 – June 30, 2011).”


- Paul J. Volkmann
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