WOODS N WATER: The bugle of elk music to hunters’ ears

WOODS N WATER: The bugle of elk music to hunters’ ears


What are the odds?

There are so many variables that go with that question we could fill a column with them, but let’s narrow it down.

What are the odds of your old outdoor writer hearing the bugle of a wild elk not in one state, but two? And what if one of these states is out west state (Utah) and the other state is down east (Pennsylvania)? Now hearing a bull elk bugle in the mountains of Utah is the kind of thing that can be expected, but Pennsylvania?

I can attest to the elk bugle in Pennsylvania because I was the guy who heard it and saw the bull in a clear cut across the valley from where I was hunting in Potter County. In fact, I was so taken by the Pennsylvania elk I even purchased a Lottery Ticket for a chance to hunt them.

When it was first proposed that elk be introduced into the Keystone State, a lot of folks sort of laughed it off. But perseverance by those that manage the game in the state and the Elk Foundation paid off.

No, my name was not drawn for the elk hunt but some other sportsmen were. At last count at least 90 percent of hunters who were lucky enough to draw an elk tag filled their tags. In all, 104 were taken by hunters during the regular one-week elk season that ended November 4.

All of those licensed to take bull elks were successful. According to Pennsylvania sources, the 2017 harvest included some big ones. Ten bulls were estimated to weigh 700 pounds or more with three topping 800. The heaviest taken this year was estimated at 833 pounds. That bull, which had an 8 by 7 rack was taken October 30.

An 832-pound bull was taken by a New York hunter and an 803 pound elk with a 6 by 7 rack was taken by a native Pennsylvanian. The New Yorker was hunting elk there for the second time (he shot a bull the first time) and is now the first two-time winner in the Pennsylvania Elk Lottery annals. Over 30,000 applicants sought the 118 tags available, 25 for bull and 93 for cows.

They say that not all of the bull elks taken in the hunt were measured and green scored by rack size but the New Yorker’s bull had the highest green score at 431-6/8 inches according to Boone & Crockett big game standards. His 2002 elk was a 7 by 7 bull that gross scored 381 inches.

There were also some large cow elk taken in the harvest. Nine of the 79 cows taken weighed over 500 pounds. Fifty-nine elk - 12 bulls and 47 cows – were taken on Opening Day.

To participate in the elk hunt, hunters must submit an application, then must be selected via random drawing and purchase a license.

I hunted deer in Pennsylvania a number of years ago and that is when I had that fleeting run-in with that bull elk. As I remember it he was a “rag-horn” (small underdeveloped horns).

Of course I could not have shot it legally but just imagine what running into a critter that size in the wild can do to your heart-rate.

I know some local sportsmen who have had phenomenal luck in the moose draws in the northeast. Maybe they ought to give the elk draws a try. You can get all of the info you need or want by going to Pennsylvania Elk Hunt on your computer.

While looking up the Pennsylvania info on elk hunting I also came across dome interesting info on their Bear Hunts.

Over the year, Pennsylvania has been noted for some nifty bears being taken. Those in charge tell us that the number of bear taken in the Keystone State has dropped 30 percent during the past four-day season. Nonetheless, this resulted in nearly 1,800 black bear being tagged back in November. Actual figures from the Game Commission showed 1,796 bears harvested during the statewide season, down from the 2,579 tagged in 2016. Heavy rains on Opening Day November 18 caused the decline.

Knowing that many local sportsmen travel to Maine to do their black bear hunting I thought that they might find some of the statistics from this year’s black bear hunt interesting. The top 10 bears processed at check stations were either estimated or confirmed to have live weights of 576 pounds or more.

Two of these large bears were taken on the last day of the season. A male with an estimated to weigh 581 was taken in Tuscarora Township, Perry County and a male estimated at 568 pounds was taken in Fox Township, Elk County.

The heaviest bear of the season was a huge male that tipped the scales at a whopping 700 pounds. That one was tagged in Oil Creek Township, Venango County.

The list of some of the other large black bear that were taken in the 2017 November hunt show a side of hunting in Pennsylvania that not too many hear about.

Some of the other large bears taken with a rifle during the four-day season include: a 691-pound male (Cherry Grove Township, Warren County); a 648-pound male (Dreher Township, Wayne County); a 609-pound male (Abbot Township, Potter County); a 601-pound male (Valley Township, Armstrong County); a 595-pound male (St. Marys Township, Elk County); a 595-pound male (Charleston Township, Tioga County); a 586-pound male (Oil Creek Township, Crawford County); a 576-pound male taken in Homer Township, Potter County; a 569-pound male (Liberty Township, Centre County); a 562-pound male (Beech Creek Township, Clinton County); a 561-pound male (Fox Township, Sullivan County); a 561-pound male (Ross Township, Luzerne County).

That, my friends, is an awful lot of bear meat.

As I write these columns and come across the different statistics regarding species populations and data, I only have to wonder how long it will be before some type of bear control is put into play here in Connecticut.

I know we are not “overrun” with black bears but we now have a large enough population that they can cause some serious damage. So far it’s only been a couple of farm animals that have suffered from black bear attacks but will a human be next?


Wallingford resident and archer Jim O’Brien was presented the “Lifetime Achievement Award” by President Sean Roberts of the Connecticut ArcheryAssociation (CAA) at their Annual Banquet December 10.

I’ve known Jim for a number of years now and can’t think of a better recipient of this prestigious award. They recognized Jim O’Brien for his many years of membership (since 1987) and years as president of the organization (2002-07). He was also recognized for his leadership and many hours donated to CAA with the help of his wife, Brenda. Brenda puts together the organization’s monthly newsletter and schedule booklets, and makes sure the CAA membership is well informed of upcoming events.

O’Brien also worked in the National Field Archery Association (NFAA) with fellow member George Ossola in setting up many of their events.

I’d like to offer my congratulations to Jim for all that he has done for those of us who enjoy the sport of archery, whether it’s target or hunting. Well done, Jim, and a HUGE thanks on behalf of all of us.

BROODSTOCK SALMON UPDATE Broodstock salmon were stocked into the Naugatuck River December 21, a total of 76 with 38 fish going into the upper Broodstock area and 38 into the lower Broodstock area

The Shetucket River was stocked with 75 fish two days earlier. These are 4- to 10-pound fish with some up to 15 pounds.

See ya’! God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be.


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