General Elk Season Starts October 30 in Pennsylvania

This year, over 57,000 people applied for the chance to hunt Pennsylvania elk.

And the state’s biggest elk season is about to get underway.

The general elk season opens Monday, Oct. 30 and runs six days through Saturday, Nov. 4.

While Pennsylvania now has three separate seasons for elk – a two-week archery season in September, the general season and a late season that begins Dec. 30 – the general season is tops in participation, with half of available elk licenses used in the general season.

This year, 72 of the 144 Pennsylvania elk licenses are for the general season. Of those, 30 hunters will be hunting antlered elk, or bulls, and 42 will be hunting antlerless elk, or cows.

Elk licenses for the general season have been allocated in 12 Elk Hunt Zones, geographic elk-management units dispersed throughout the northcentral Pennsylvania elk range. Maps of the zones can be found on the elk page at www.pgc.pa.gov.

Many other hunting seasons, including archery deer and bear, and most small game and turkey seasons, occur simultaneous to the general elk season.

Hunters participating in the general elk season, in which firearms are permitted, must wear, at all times, 250 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange material on the head, chest, and back combined, visible 360 degrees. They must properly tag elk harvests and bring them to the Game Commission’s check station, where the elk are weighed, and samples are collected to test for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), brucellosis, and tuberculosis. To date CWD has not been detected in Pennsylvania elk. The elk check station is located at the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day of the season.

“Every elk hunter that comes through the check station is elated, and I sincerely enjoy sharing in their excitement and try to keep the check-station experience quick, easy and enjoyable,” Game Commission elk biologist Jeremy Banfield said. “I encourage hunters and visitors to ask questions and witness firsthand an important part of how the Game Commission works to manage elk,” he added.

Real-time harvest results can be viewed at www.pgcapps.pa.gov/Harvest/Elk.

Following completion of the general elk season, 46 hunters will participate in the late season that runs from Dec. 30 through Jan. 6, 2024. Seventeen of those hunters have licenses for antlered elk, 29 for antlerless.

During 2022-23 hunters harvested 131 elk (55 bulls, 76 cows) across three seasons, with 11 bulls meeting the minimum score for inclusion in the state records. A new No. 1 bull was recorded in the typical firearms category with a score of 407-4/8 taken last year, and a new No. 1 bull in the nontypical archery category scoring 445-2/8 harvested last year is the second largest bull ever taken in Pennsylvania.