Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ammunition manufacturers can't keep up with demand for common hunting calibers

There's a chill in the evening air and daylight hours are waning. Many animals are beginning to fatten up for winter, and the deer rut is soon to kick in. Traditionally it's time to start sighting-in the sporting arms and get ready for the fall hunts.

This year, however, many hunters will have a hard time filling their chambers. A nationwide ammunition shortage is sure to impact hunters who shoot some of the most popular calibers.
Shotgun loads for shot and rifled slugs remain easy to find. But reflecting a national trend, availability of rifle and handgun ammunition in Pittsburgh area sporting goods stores is spotty and inconsistent. Many shelves are empty. A clerk at one local store, who asked that he and the retailer remain anonymous, said customers are going from store to store searching for common calibers and sometimes not finding them.

Keith Savage of Braverman Arms in Wilkinsburg put it this way: "It is unbelievably hard to get common stuff."

Long term, the national ammunition shortage began with record gun sales that started the week after President Barack Obama was elected to his first term. Apprehension over possible new gun laws spurred many gun owners to stock up on firearms and ammunition. A push for gun law reform early in Obama's second term further increased sales.

The current ammunition shortage began in January when increased sales of new high-performance firearms led to increased purchases of .22, 9mm and .380 cartridges for those guns. To meet that demand, manufacturers shifted away from producing popular hunting ammo that was well-stocked at the time, including .270, .30-06, .30-30 and .308. Now, as consumers seek hunting ammunition, manufacturers have used up their reserves and are struggling to catch up. Wholesalers can't supply the stores with what they need and shelves are conspicuously empty.

At the same time, some gun owners are hoarding ammunition, fearing another legislative push for gun law reform.

"It's several things happening at once," said Mike Bazinet of the Newtown, Connecticut-based National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun and ammunition trade association. "We're now living in a time of just-in-time manufacturing. There's not as much flexibility in the supply system as there was several years ago. Manufacturers can't meet demand."

Hunters are now holding the short end of that stick. In January, the largest gun seller in the country, Wal-Mart, started rationing ammunition sales. Other retailers followed.

At the West Mifflin Wal-Mart, signs taped to shelves -- some completely empty -- caution customers that sales are limited to three boxes per customer per day. The nearby Dick's Sporting Goods limits the sale of rifle and pistol loads to three standard boxes or one bulk pack (200 rounds) per customer per day. Just up the street, Gander Mountain's rationing is less restrictive: 10 boxes including bulk packs per customer per day. The rationing is unevenly enforced -- some clerks will sell larger volumes.

"This has been going on for six months or longer. I'd say it's been a little bit of a snowball effect," said Savage, of Braverman Arms. "If they're lucky enough to find the caliber they need, guys are forced to use a different grain than what they're familiar with."

Braverman's shortages include the .270s, some .30-06 loads, .243 and .30-30. And like everyone else, Savage says he's chronically out of .22 long rifle cartridges. On all sales of rifle and pistol ammunition except .40 and .45 caliber, Braverman's limits customers to two boxes per customer per day (a third box of ammo is available with a gun sale).

Nationwide, prices are up but not substantially, said Bazinet. The same applies locally. Savage said when stores are lucky enough to get a big shipment of common hunting calibers, they often offer sales specials.

Last week Wal-Mart was selling a box of Remington Core-Lokt .30-06 Springfield 150 grain for $21.97. At Dick's the same box sold for $20.99, at Gander Mountain $19.99. Clerks at those stores said they didn't know when they'd be resupplied.

Bazinet said sighting in a new gun is likely to be expensive. Hunters may be forced to shorten practice time on the range, or pop off a quick three-shot grouping to confirm a sporting arm is still sighted in from last year.

But it's not all bad news for hunters. Although hunting ammo is hard to find and license sales are down, soaring gun sales -- many among non-hunters -- are boosting revenues for the state wildlife management agencies. In 2012, Pittman-Robertson Act excise taxes on the sale of guns and ammunition generated $487,998,107 nationwide, including $16,692,502 in Pennsylvania. Those revenues are likely to increase in 2013.

A National Shooting Sports Foundation report on the economic impact on the firearms and ammunition industry in 2012 found that nationwide guns sales generated an additional $2,503,904,614 in federal business tax revenue and $2,071,203,695 in state business taxes, for a total of $4,575,108,309.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Energy Leases Generate $9M In Revenue For PA Game Commission

Deals to yield royalties for years to come.

The Pennsylvania Board of Game Commissioners Tuesday approved a number of leases with energy companies that will result in more than $9 million in initial revenue, and a yet unknown amount of royalties.
Most of the lease agreements result from requests by companies that have strong leaseholds in the surrounding areas, and already are in possession of the energy rights on Game Commission properties. The agreements ensure the fuels are extracted with little to no surface impacts on game lands. The agreements are:

·         A lease with Chief Exploration and Development LLC of Dallas, Texas for approximately 19,133 acres on State Game Lands 12 in Bradford and Sullivan counties. Chief currently owns private leases on a large portion of State Game Lands 12, and the company also holds lease position on private lands immediately adjacent to state game lands and has drilled several horizontal wells to the game lands boundary. Under the agreement, Chief would make bonus payments in two installments. The first, $3 million payment would be due within 60 days of the execution of the lease. The second installment would be due on the first anniversary of the agreement and would be in the amount of the balance of bonus value due to the commission. Additionally, Chief will pay the commission 23 percent in royalties for the oil, gas and hydrocarbons produced and sold from the areas in which the commission owns the oil and gas rights. Chief has also agreed to pay a well pad location fee of $100,000 for surface damages for each well pad developed where the commission owns both the surface and the oil and gas rights, and a $50,000 pad location fee where the commission owns only the surface rights. Chief has further agreed to store only freshwater in any impoundment and pay an impoundment fee of up to $25,000 per impoundment.

·         A lease with CNX Gas Co. LLC for approximately 1,692 surface acres and nearly 1,298 oil and gas acres on State Game Lands 245 in Washington County. CNX will make a bonus payment of $3,893,970 as part of the lease, and will pay royalties at 20 percent for all oil, gas or other liquids and condensates that are owned by the commission and produced and sold from the tract.

·         A lease with Talisman Energy USA Inc. for 91.44 acres on State Game Lands 140 in Susquehanna County. Talisman would make a $228,600 bonus payment and pay 20 percent in royalties for all oil, gas and other liquids and condensates produced and sold from the proposed tract.

·         A lease with P&N Coal Co., of Punxsutawney, to recover coal resources from 93 acres beneath State Game Lands 77 in Clearfield County. P&N estimates there is about 137,400 tons of recoverable coal at the site. P&N would make an initial payment of $350,000 into the Game Fund, then after recouping that amount, would begin making monthly royalty payments to the commission. Royalties would be paid at a rate of 12 percent freight-on-board price (F.O.B.) or $3.50 per ton, whichever is greater, for coal with a BTU value greater than 9,500; and 10 percent F.O.B. or $2.50 per ton, whichever is greater, for coal with a BTU value of less than 9,500. F.O.B. is the price for which coal is sold at the pit.

·         A lease with Fisher Mining Co. Inc., of Montoursville, to conduct surface mining on 66 acres of State Game Lands 75 in Lycoming County. Fisher has agreed to an advance surface mining support payment of $1.5 million, which, in addition to all merchantable timber values, will be deposited into the Game Fund or an interest-bearing escrow account for future land purchases. The coal royalty value of the proposed additional mining on the tract is estimated at $3.2 million. Fisher also would agree to a reclamation plan to achieve forested post-mining land use, and the company would leave a coal barrier in place and add a minimum of 1,200 tons per acre of alkaline material to the pit floor.

·         An amendment to an existing lease agreement with Range Resources Appalachia LLC for more than 62 acres on State Game Lands 117 in Washington County. Range would add nearly 43 acres to the lease. With the amendment, Range would make a bonus payment of $107,245 and pay 19 percent in royalties for the oil, gas and other liquids and condensates produced and sold from the proposed tract

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pennsylvania Adjusts CWD Rules

Game Commission lifts requirement for hunters to take harvests to check stations.

Hunters harvesting deer in areas of Pennsylvania where chronic wasting disease has been found will need to comply with special rules during the upcoming hunting seasons.
But the Pennsylvania Game Commission for the 2013-14 seasons has removed the requirement for successful hunters within a Disease Management Area to take their harvests to a check station where samples can be collected for disease testing.
Instead, the Game Commission will use other methods to determine how prevalent the disease might be in areas where it has been found.
The changes correspond with changing circumstances in Pennsylvania regarding chronic wasting disease (CWD), a disease that always is fatal to deer, elk and moose but that is not known to be transmitted to humans.
When CWD first was detected in Pennsylvania in captive deer at an Adams County facility in 2012, there was no evidence any of the state’s free-ranging deer had been impacted by the disease. Intensive monitoring efforts that included requirements for certain Pennsylvania hunters to take their harvests to check stations were intended to determine whether CWD might have spread from the captive to the free-ranging deer population.
Since that time, however, positive CWD test results have been returned in relation to three free-ranging deer harvested by hunters in Blair and Bedford counties.
And now that CWD has been found among some of the state’s free-ranging deer, the Game Commission must focus on managing the disease rather than trying to prevent it, said Calvin DuBrock, director of the Game Commission’s Bureau of Wildlife Management.
“Now that we know CWD is in the wild, our mission is to determine how prevalent it is in the areas in which it’s been found and to do what we can to slow its spread,” DuBrock said. “We have already begun collecting and testing samples to give us a clearer picture of the disease’s impact, and we will be asking hunters within the state’s two Disease Management Areas to comply with special rules, but there won’t be quite so many demands on hunters this year in relation to our monitoring.”

Hunting within Disease Management Areas
Special rules apply to hunters and residents within the state’s two Disease Management Areas (DMAs).
DMA 1 encompasses an about 600-square-mile area that includes parts of York and Adams counties. DMA 2 – which was established earlier this year as a result of CWD positives in free-ranging deer – spans nearly 900 square miles in parts of Blair, Bedford, Huntingdon and Cambria counties.
Detailed maps of those DMAs, which form their borders along roads and water courses, are available online at the Game Commission’s website,, and also appear on pages 53 and 54 of the 2013-14 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest.
Those hunting within either DMA need to know that deer carcass parts determined to have a high risk of transmitting CWD cannot be removed from the DMA.
High-risk parts include the head (including brain, tonsils, eyes and any lymph nodes); spinal cord/backbone; spleen; skull plate with attached antlers, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; cape, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if root structure or other soft tissue is present; any object or article containing visible brain or spinal cord tissue; unfinished taxidermy mounts; and brain-tanned hides.
The meat from harvested deer may be removed from the DMAs, so long as it does not contain any high-risk parts. Hunters also may remove from the DMAs any cleaned skull plates with attached antlers, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; tanned hide or raw hide with no visible brain or spinal cord tissue present; capes, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if no root structure or other soft tissue is present; and finished taxidermy mounts.
The use of urine-based deer attractants is prohibited within the DMAs, as is the direct or indirect feeding of wild, free-ranging deer.
Those who hunt within a DMA, but who live in another area, need to plan what they will do with any deer they harvest within the DMA.
Harvested deer can be taken to any cooperating processor or taxidermist associated with the DMA, and the processed meat or finished taxidermy mounts can be removed from the DMA when they are ready.
Hunters who want to process their own deer may remove the meat from the carcass and dispose of any high-risk parts at dumpsters to be set up at locations within the DMAs.
Proper disposal of high-risk parts is important because CWD can be transmitted from deer to deer through both direct and indirect contact, and dumping high-risk parts in areas where free-ranging deer might be exposed to them increases the risk of spreading the disease.

Sampling for CWD
The Game Commission has continued disease sampling on road-killed deer within the DMAs for the last several months, and the agency will collect some samples during the upcoming deer archery season. But the bulk of samples are likely to be collected during the regular two-week firearms season for deer, which opens Dec. 2.
The commission has set a goal of collecting 1,000 samples from each DMA. DuBrock said that testing 2,000 samples will provide biologists with a solid indication of how prevalent the disease is where it is known to have existed.
The Game Commission intends to stop sampling after it reaches the benchmarks.
The Game Commission will notify hunters of any deer that are sampled and test positive for CWD. However, hunters should understand that their deer, even when taken to a cooperating processor or taxidermist, might not be tested for the disease.
Some hunters might want to know for certain that a deer they harvest will be tested for CWD, and the only way to assure the animal will be tested is to take the harvested deer’s head to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture laboratory in Harrisburg. Transporting a deer head for disease testing is a permitted exception to the prohibition on removing high-risk parts from the DMA. Before transport, the head should be placed in a plastic garbage bag, with that bag then placed in a second plastic garbage bag.
Other high-risk parts should not be removed from a DMA and should be disposed of properly within the DMA instead.
Hunters who have their deer tested by the Department of Agriculture will need to pay a fee. Those interested in testing should call the Department of Agriculture at 717-787-8808 before making a trip there. More information about this process can be found by clicking on the CWD link of the Department of Agriculture’s website,
Chronic wasting disease is not known to be transmitted to humans; however, out of an abundance of caution, hunters are advised not to eat the meat from animals that test positive.
Hunters also are urged to never shoot deer that appear sick. Instead, deer that appear unhealthy should be reported to the nearest Game Commission regional office. Game Commission officers will investigate such reports.

Disposal of high-risk parts
While using a cooperating processor or taxidermist does not guarantee hunters that the deer they harvest will be tested for CWD, it does assure that the high-risk parts from harvests are given proper disposal.
Because CWD is transmitted from deer to deer both directly and indirectly, and because the prion that causes CWD can live in the soil – perhaps forever, hunters should never dump high-risk deer parts anywhere living deer might come in contact with them. Doing so only increases the risk of further spreading the disease.
 Instead, hunters should make certain all high-risk deer parts make their way to a landfill for disposal.
Cooperating processors and taxidermists who are contracted by hunters for their services have pledged to properly dispose of high-risk parts. A list of cooperating processors and taxidermists is available at the Game Commission’s website, and will be updated regularly with any changes.
Some of the cooperating processors and taxidermists associated with either DMA might be located just beyond the DMA’s border. Hunters harvesting deer within the DMA may use those processors – this is another permitted exception to the prohibition on removal of high-risk parts. In such cases, deer should be taken directly from the DMA to the cooperating processor or taxidermist.
Hunters who process their own deer can dispose of high-risk parts by bagging them with other trash that’s destined for a landfill. Hunters within the DMAs also can take high-risk parts to one of four sites on state game lands – two in each DMA – where dumpsters will be set up to collect high-risk parts.
Collection sites in DMA 1 will be at State Game Lands 242 and State Game Lands 249, and in DMA 2, sites will be set up at State Game Lands 147 and State Game Lands 41.
Dumpsters at those sites will be available for use from the first day of the archery deer season until the close of the flintlock muzzleloader season (Oct. 2 to Jan. 11).
The exact locations of dumpsters can be found on the Game Commission’s website.

Information on CWD
Four public meetings have been scheduled – two in each DMA – to explain the rules that apply to hunters and to answer general questions about CWD.
The first meeting was on Sept. 17 in York County, and meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 25 at Spring Cove Middle School, 185 Spring Garden Drive in Roaring Spring, Blair County; on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at Bermudian Springs High School, 7335 Carlisle Pike in York Springs, Adams County; and on Monday, Oct. 28 at Northern Bedford High School, 152 NBC Drive in Loysburg, Bedford County.
All meetings start at about 6:15 p.m.
While chronic wasting disease is new to Pennsylvania, it is not a new disease. CWD first was discovered in 1967, and it has been researched since. Scientists believe CWD is caused by an unknown agent capable of transforming normal brain proteins into an abnormal form.
There currently is no practical way to test live animals for CWD, nor is there a vaccine.  Clinical signs include poor posture, lowered head and ears, uncoordinated movement, rough-hair coat, weight loss, increased thirst, excessive drooling, and, ultimately, death. There currently is no scientific evidence that CWD has or can spread to humans, either through contact with infected animals or by eating meat of infected animals.
Much more information on CWD, as well as a video showing hunters how they can process venison for transport and consumption, is available at the Game Commission’s website.

CWD precautions
Wildlife officials have suggested hunters in areas where chronic wasting disease (CWD) is known to exist follow these usual recommendations to prevent the possible spread of disease:
- Do not shoot, handle or consume any animal that appears sick; contact the state wildlife agency if you see or harvest an animal that appears sick.
- Wear rubber or latex gloves when field-dressing carcasses.
- Bone out the meat from your animal.
- Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.
- Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field-dressing is completed.
- Request that your animal is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to meat from your animal, or process your own meat if you have the tools and ability to do so.
- Have your animal processed in the endemic area of the state where it was harvested, so that high-risk body parts can be properly disposed of there.  Only bring permitted materials back to Pennsylvania
-  Don’t consume the brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils or lymph nodes of harvested animals. (Normal field-dressing, coupled with boning out a carcass, will remove most, if not all, of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will help remove remaining lymph nodes.)

- Consider not consuming the meat from any animal that tests positive for the disease.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Hunters trade shots over deer breeding, killing methods

The quest for better deer -- specifically bucks with antlers as freakishly big as possible -- has created a rift among deer hunters.

Prize bucks are measured on a complicated scale that involves measurements between antlers, but suffice to say the more and bigger the antlers, the more valued the animal in hunting circles. But hunters who stalk deer through the woods and take them down the old-fashioned way are seeing their records obliterated by deer created by breeders and set free in enclosed areas for weekend warriors to bring down – and mount in mancaves back home.
"They’ve now created deer that are beyond human belief in terms of their antler size,” said Brian Murphy, CEO of the Quality Deer Management Association. “[The deer] staggers around under the weight of those antlers."

“[The deer] staggers around under the weight of those antlers."
- Brian Murphy, CEO of the Quality Deer Management Association

Murphy said some some deer are released into 10,000 acres of land, while others, in the most egregious cases, are released into three to five acres before they are shot down.
"Most hunters find great disdain in a known outcome," he told "That is not hunting. There has to be a high degree of not being successful. The deer has to have a fair chance to escape." 

People who kill deer in that fashion follow "a code of ethics that is beyond reproach," he said. 

The race for bigger deer has prompted some to fear that cloning methods, first pioneered at Texas A&M laboratories in order to protect the species, could soon be used to accelerate the race for bigger antlers.

In an investigative article written for Outdoor Life magazine, Chris Dougherty describes what he called "Frankenstein Bucks."

"One look at this pen-reared buck tells you there is something wrong, something terribly wrong. His obscenely disfigured antlers look more like something you would find growing on a coral reef or in a post nuclear war sci-fi thriller,” Dougherty wrote. “They twist and turn and droop and bulge and fork and then fork again."

But other deer breeding groups, like Michigan-based Whitehouse Whitetails, said there's no difference between killing deer in the wild and killing them in an enclosed space. 

"They have the right to do that because it isn't to hunt. They just want the head to mount on their wall," said Laura Caroll, who, along with her husband, owns the deer breeding company. 

"They [critics] are saying that one way of killing them is different from another way of killing them," she said. "But the end result is that they kill them." 

"It’s no different than raising cattle that’s going to go on people’s tables," Caroll said.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Westmoreland County, PA Man Develops New Deer Calling System

By Bob Frye, Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Valentine Wtorkiewicz works on a call for his Talk the Walk Complete
Deer Calling System on Sept. 7, 2013, in his workshop in Acme.
On the best fall mornings, when the chill in the air and frosty crispness of the woods foretold of whitetails on the move, Valentine Wtorkiewicz always would try to walk to his tree stand silently.

He never succeeded.

The leaves were always too crunchy underfoot. They gave him away with each step.
That prompted a change in strategy. He started walking the last 150 yards to his stand with a toe-to-heel step, snapping the back of his foot down to imitate the sound of a deer walking through the woods. That not only didn't scare deer away, it often seemed to attract them, he noticed.

“The more and more that happened, I thought, there's got to be something to this. It's not just coincidence,” said the Acme, Westmoreland County, man.

That prompted the creation of his Talk the Walk deer call.

It looks like little more than a small camouflaged pillow. Crunch it with a “snap, release, snap, release” sequence, though, and it mimics the sound of a deer walking through fall leaves.
It's meant to be used in several ways.

Early in the season, using the call alone can prompt one deer to investigate what he thinks is another moving in on his territory or food, Wtorkeiwicz said. Later, as the rut approaches, the call can be used in combination with grunt tubes and/or rattle bags to sight call to a buck you've spotted or to blind call to unseen deer by sounding like a buck chasing a doe.

In all cases, the extra realism created by the Talk the Walk can mean the difference between drawing in a buck or not, he said.

“Absolutely, environmental sounds are a huge part of an animal's world,” Wtorkiewicz said. “Deer don't float past your stand. They don't float through the woods. From the time they're born, as soon as they hear that sound, they associate it with another deer on the ground.
“That's what makes this very effective. It's the signature that convinces one deer he's really hearing another.”

Chris Ungvarsky of Turtle Creek is a believer. He came across Wtorkiewicz's website by chance last year and bought a call. Ninety minutes into using it, he called in and killed an 8-point.

“He just came in on a rope. He walked right in,” Ungvarsky said.

He used rattling horns and a grunt tube with the Talk the Walk. But he's convinced it “was definitely a part” of his success.

“In today's deer woods where every Outdoor Channel-watching Elmer Fudd out there is rattling and grunting like mad, this call adds a depth of reality that could just be the deciding factor for a wary deer investigating the source of the calls he's hearing,” Ungvarsky said. “It's another tool in your arsenal.”

Wtorkeiwicz has spent eight seasons perfecting his now-patented call. Now he's trying to figure out how to sell it.

That figures to be a challenge all its own. 

“It's a fierce industry. There are all kinds of calls out there. And there's seemingly something new coming out every day,” said Bob Stover, managing partner of the Thomasville, Ga.-based Lynch Traditions, which has been making turkey calls for 75 years.

Stover is supplying Wtorkiewicz with the SuperFlague camo material for his calls and plans to market it in the retail store he's opening later this month. It's an “innovative” product with a lot of potential, he believes.

It's one shortcoming is its packaging, he said. It comes with a label that tells customers to visit the company's website to learn the “how, where or when” of using the call.
It needs directions right on it, Stover said.

“If it's in a store with 1,500 other retail products, people have to be able to tell what it is right away. They don't want to have to buy it and take it home and look up a website to see how it works,” he said.

That said, the call has gotten a good reception from most people he's shown it to, he said.
Rich Stoner of S&S Sport Shop in Rockwood said he was impressed by it, as well. He's bought a few to try to sell in his store.

It's tough for any new product to crack the market and even harder for it to stand the test of time, Stoner said. During a recent redesign of his shop, he threw away a half dozen peacock screamers, which were all the rage as turkey locator calls at one time but haven't sold in years, for example.

But the Talk the Walk has a chance, he said.

“It might not be the magical cure that always works. But it might be something that convinces a deer to come in. Or it might even have a calming effect on a deer you're trying to bring close. That's pretty critical in archery hunting,” Stoner said.

“I think he's on to something.”

Wtorkiewicz is making his calls himself in between working a full-time job and raising a family, while also doing his own promotion and marketing.

But he's hoping if he gets enough calls in the hands of hunters and they have success with it this year, his idea will grow into a full-time operation.

If so, those noisy early morning walks into the woods may pay off.

“This is a product that works. That's what I've got going for me,” he said.

To learn more
For more specifics about Valentine Wtorkiewicz's Talk the Walk call, visit
There, Wtorkiewicz has a video explaining how the call works and where and when to use it. There's also some footage of the call in use in the woods.
Calls can be purchased directly from the site for $14.99. A number of local shops, including S&S Sport Shop in Rockwood, Jay Peake Archery in North Huntingdon, Creek Archery in Yukon, and others, are selling them, too

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Friday the 13th Lucky for Pennsylvania Hunters?

Eighty-six applicants to be chosen for coveted Pennsylvania elk licenses.

Long associated with misfortune, Friday the 13th figures this year to rank among the luckiest of days for dozens of Pennsylvania hunters.
Pennsylvania’s annual public drawing for elk-hunting licenses is scheduled to be held on Friday, Sept. 13 at the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s headquarters in Harrisburg. As a result of the drawing, 86 hunters will be selected to purchase a coveted license for the state’s 2013 elk hunt.
“There always are so many people who want to take part in our elk hunt, and so many fewer licenses available, that all whose names are drawn truly can consider themselves lucky,” Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe said. “You can bet, too, that the hunters selected for a 2013 elk license will have a whole different opinion of Friday the 13th from here on out.”
Of course, there’s a flipside.
Each year, tens of thousands of hunters pay the $10.70 application fee for a chance to be selected for an elk license. And even though the Game Commission this year continued a trend of increasing the number of elk licenses to be allocated, the fact remains that most who apply will not be selected. Still, every hunter who entered the drawing this year and is not selected, increases his or her chances of being selected next year by earning a preference point.
Preference points are awarded to hunters for every year they enter the elk hunt drawing. A hunter with three preference points and an active application would have four chances to be selected in the drawing.
The live drawing for elk licenses generates a lot of excitement. And for those who want to see the selection process, but who can’t make it to the Harrisburg headquarters to do so, the 10 a.m. drawing will be shown live on the Game Commission’s website,
Those visiting the website on the morning of the drawing can click on the “Live Elk Drawing” icon to watch.
All hunters selected to purchase a license will be notified by mail of the opportunity. All applicants for a license also can check online to see if they’ve been selected, but the results won’t be available immediately.
By Sept. 20, however, the status of all elk-license applications is expected to be updated on the Pennsylvania Automated License System (PALS).
The application period to enter this year’s elk-license drawing ended Aug. 25.
Presently, all hunters who have applied for an elk license can check PALS and see the status for their application listed as “Pending.” When the database is updated following the drawing, those selected for an elk license will see the status changed to “Awarded.” The listing also will show whether the license is for an antlered or antlerless elk, and shows the Elk Hunt Zone in which the license is valid.
Applicants who are not selected for an elk license will see their status changed to “Unsuccessful.”
To access PALS, go to the Game Commission’s website and click on the blue box titled “Buy a License” in the upper right corner of the homepage.
From there, select the “purchase license” option at the top of the page, enter your identifying information, and at the next screen, select “Check on the status of an Antlerless Deer or Elk Application.”
About 23,000 hunters have applied this year for a chance at an elk license. The first 26 applicants selected at the drawing will be for the antlered elk licenses available. Applicants then will be selected for antlerless licenses. 
Those selected by drawing must purchase an elk license to hunt. License fees are $25 for residents and $250 for nonresidents. Each elk hunter also must have a valid Pennsylvania general hunting license. 
 Roe said while the elk drawing always is much-anticipated, this year it gives tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians something to look forward to on a day when cynics might tell you it’s best to stay in bed.
“I wish each and every applicant the best of luck,” Roe said.

Prospective elk guides have until Sept. 27 to submit paperwork.

Anyone interested in applying to be an elk guide for the upcoming season should submit a completed application to the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Bureau of Wildlife Protection by Friday, Sept. 27. Guide permits cost $25 for residents and $50 for nonresidents.
Applicants must possess a valid hunting license or qualify for license and fee exemptions under Title 34, Section 2706. Also, any application received from an individual convicted of a violation of the Game and Wildlife Code or Game Commission regulations within the last 10 years will be rejected. 
Guides may provide assistance in locating or tracking elk, and calling for elk, but they may not harvest an elk. Permit applications are obtained from the Game Commission’s Harrisburg headquarters by calling 717-783-8164, or by contacting any of the Game Commission’s six region offices.
The Board of Game Commissioners created the elk-guide permit to allow experienced individuals, especially those who are familiar with or live in the elk range, to serve as guides for those who receive an elk license. However, an elk license recipient is not required to hire a guide.
Guide permits are not required for those who only plan to accompany an elk license recipient, or those who plan to aid a successful elk hunter to remove an elk from the field.
Those seeking elk guide permits also should consult with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources concerning special guiding permits and requirements on state forest or state park lands.

Celebrating a century of Pennsylvania Elk
The Pennsylvania Game Commission in 2013 is celebrating 100 years of elk restoration in Pennsylvania and, as part of the festivities, special events are scheduled at locations within the state’s elk range each weekend through Columbus Day.
For a complete list of events, visit the Game Commission’s website,, and click on the “100th Anniversary PA Elk Restoration” icon.
Elk ranged throughout Pennsylvania historically, but were pushed from many areas as more of the state was settled. By the late 1800s, elk were eliminated from their last stronghold in northcentral Pennsylvania. And they were gone from the state for about 50 years when the Game Commission in 1913 launched an effort to restore them.
Today, Pennsylvania is home to about 850 elk and the state’s herd is the largest in the northeastern United States.

The state’s elk range comprises about 800 square miles in parts of Elk, Cameron, Clinton, Potter and Clearfield counties.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Junior Pheasant Hunts Offer Choice

Two dates on this year’s schedule, but registration deadline is nearing.

Junior hunters this fall will get two shots at taking part in a special pheasant hunt just for them.

In an effort to better accommodate the busy schedules families often have, the Pennsylvania Game Commission this year is allowing the sportsmen’s clubs that host Junior Pheasant Hunts some leeway in planning their events.

In previous years, all Junior Pheasant Hunt events statewide were held on the same Saturday. But this year, clubs are permitted to host events on either Saturday in the junior pheasant season.

And some clubs have responded by scheduling two events – one each on Oct. 12 and Oct. 19.

“We’re glad to see clubs stepping up to meet the growing interest our junior hunters have demonstrated,” Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe said.

Junior Pheasant Hunts are events for youngsters between the ages of 12 and 16 years old who have successfully completed a Hunter-Trapper Education course. The events are held on Saturdays during the one-week junior pheasant season, which this year runs from Saturday, Oct. 12 to Saturday, Oct. 19.

Junior Pheasant Hunts all are held on lands open to public hunting, and the Game Commission provides clubs with about 3,000 pheasants to stock for the hunts. The commission stocks another 15,000 pheasants statewide ahead of the junior season, and this year plans to release more than 200,000 pheasants across Pennsylvania.

Youngsters taking part in a Junior Pheasant Hunt event are not required to purchase a license, but they must wear the necessary amount of fluorescent orange and be accompanied as required by law.

  Juniors who register to hunt in a special event, or who otherwise hunt pheasants in the junior season, must adhere to Pennsylvania’s long-standing daily bag limit of two pheasants and may only harvest cock pheasants in select wildlife management units.
Roe urged youngsters interested in taking part in a Junior Pheasant Hunt to register soon. Space is limited for most events, and the registration deadline is Sept. 25. 

“Ask anyone who has been involved in our Junior Pheasant Hunts and they’ll tell you there’s really not a better opportunity out there for young hunters to get a taste of excitement and success afield,” Roe said. “Don’t wait until it’s too late to sign up.”

Those looking to register for events, can click on the Junior Pheasant Hunt button on the home page of the Game Commission’s website ( Registration can be completed online.

Information on Junior Pheasant Hunts also can be found by scrolling the cursor over “Education” in the menu bar at the top of the home page, then following this sequence: Click on  “Go Hunting and Shooting,” then “Youth Programs,” then “Junior Pheasant Hunt  Program.”

A county-by-county list of events follows:

Allegheny County:
Bullcreek Rod and Gun Club will host its junior pheasant hunt at the club near Tarentum for 30 juniors on Oct. 12. The deadline to register is Sept. 25. Register online at

Armstrong County:
Apollo Spring Church Sportsmen’s Club will host its junior pheasant hunt at the club for 30 juniors on Oct. 12. The deadline to register is Sept. 25. Register online at

Beaver County:
Beaver County Sportsmen’s Conservation League will host two junior pheasant hunts for 24 juniors each – one at State Game Lands 173 on Oct. 12, and one at Raccoon Creek State Park on Oct. 19. Register online at for the hunt Oct. 12, or for the hunt Oct. 19. Deadline to register is Sept. 25

Bedford County:
Bedford County Sportsmen’s Club will host two junior pheasant hunts in Bedford on Oct. 12 and 19.  Fifty juniors will be accepted for each hunt. Register online at for the hunt on Oct. 12, or for the hunt on Oct. 19. The deadline to register is Sept. 25. Contact Chad or Kelly Kendall at 814-847-2558 or email after registering to verify hunt times.

Bedford-Fulton Pheasants Forever Chapter  No. 741 will host its junior pheasant hunt on State Game Lands 97 on Oct. 12.  Up to 30 juniors can participate and the deadline to register is Sept. 25.  Register online at

Southern Cove Rod & Gun Club will host its junior pheasant hunt in New Enterprise for 50 juniors on Oct. 12. The deadline to register is Sept. 25.  Register online at

Blair County:
Smokey Run Rod & Gun Club, Martinsburg Sportsman Club, Henrietta Sportsman Club, and Loop Sportsman Club will host a junior pheasant hunt on State Game Lands 147 for 25 juniors on Oct. 12. The deadline to register is Sept. 25.  Register online at

Centre County:
3 Point Sportsmen Club will host its junior pheasant hunt in Sproul State Forest, reclaim strip mine land, Clarence, for 60 juniors on October 12. Register online at The deadline to register is Sept. 25.

Clearfield County:
Pennsylvania Wildlife Habitat Unlimited will host its junior pheasant hunt at the All Seasons Trap & Skeet Club near Luthersburg for 25 juniors on Oct. 12. Register online at The deadline to register is Sept. 25.

Columbia County:
Central Susquehanna Pheasants Forever will host its junior pheasant hunt on State Game Lands 226 near Millville for 15 juniors on Oct. 12. Register online at The deadline to register is Sept. 10.

Crawford County:
Black Ash Sportsman Club will host its junior pheasant hunt at the club for 20 juniors on Oct. 12. Register online at The deadline to register is Sept. 25.

Erie County:
Pheasants Forever of Northwest PA will host two junior pheasant hunts on Millers Farm, Riley Siding Road, Union City for 25 juniors each hunt. Register online at for the hunt Oct. 12, or for the hunt Oct. 19. The deadline to register is Sept. 25. 

Elk County:
North Central PA Pheasants Forever Chapter 630 will host two junior pheasant hunts on State Game Lands 44, Sawmut Tract in Brockport for 65 juniors each hunt. Register online at for the hunt Oct. 12, or for the hunt Oct. 19. The deadline to register is Sept. 14.

Franklin County:
Cumberland Valley Chapter Pheasants Forever will hold its junior pheasant hunt on State Game Lands 124, Mercersburg for 40 juniors on Oct. 12. Register online for the hunt from 7 a.m. to noon, or for the hunt from 11a.m. to 3 p.m. The deadline to register is Sept. 15.
Lancaster County:
Lititz Sportsmen’s Association will host its junior pheasant hunt at Speedwell Forge Lake near Lititz for 25 juniors on Oct. 12. The deadline to register is Sept. 25. Register online at

Lexington Rod & Gun Club will host its junior pheasant hunt at Speedwell Forge Lake near Lititz for 20 juniors on Oct. 19. The deadline to register is Sept. 25. Register online at

Luzerne County:
Northeast PA Chapter of Pheasants Forever Chapter 803 will host its junior pheasant hunt on SGL 119 near Bear Creek for 45 juniors on Oct. 12. Register online at deadline to register is Sept. 25. 

United Sportsmens Camp 271 will host its junior pheasant hunt near Shickshinny for 30 juniors on Oct. 19.  Register online at  The deadline to register is Sept. 25.

Warren County:
Kalbfus Rod and Gun Club will hold its junior pheasant hunt at the Hibner property near Sugar Grove for 25 juniors on Oct. 12. Register online at The deadline to register is Sept. 25.

Corry Rod & Gun Club will host two junior pheasant hunts in Tidioute for 20 juniors each hunt. Register online at for the hunt Oct. 12, or for the hunt Oct. 19. The deadline to register is Sept. 25.

Washington County:
McDonald Sportsmen will host its junior pheasant hunt in McDonald for 50 juniors on Oct. 12. The deadline to register is Sept. 25. Register online at

Westmoreland County:
Law Enforcement Officers of Westmoreland County will host its junior pheasant hunt at Mammoth Park, Norvelt for 50 juniors on Oct. 12. Register online at The deadline to register is Sept. 25.

Rostraver Sportsmen & Conservation Association will host its junior pheasant hunt at the club in Belle Vernon for 30 juniors on Oct. 12. Register online at The deadline to register is Sept. 25.

York County:
Starview Sportsmen’s Association will host its junior pheasant hunt on State Game Lands 243 in Franklintown for 12 juniors on Oct. 12. Register online at The deadline to register is Sept. 25.