It was cloudy with rain in the forecast as I drove up Winslow Hill on Friday morning October 2, 2009. This was the last morning of a nearly two week trip to document the Pennsylvania elk rut. The area around the Gilbert Viewing Area had been extremely active during the last few days, but much of the vegetation was freshly planted grasses or grain, which made excellent food for the elk, but somewhat less than ideal backgrounds for photographs.
Fellow outdoor blogger Brad Myers ,of Bradley Myers Photo Blog, and I found a solitary bull with a small group of cows in a portion of meadow that was reclaimed two years or more ago, and had more photogenic appeal than much of the surrounding area. It began raining lightly as we worked into position and settled in for an excellent photo session with these animals.
As best as Ronald "Buckwheat" Saffer and I have been able to determine, this animal is bull #40. I saw this animal a few years ago when he still had a collar, but the numbers were torn off. At that time Buckwheat identified him as #40, as he had seen him when the numbers were visible and thought it was the same bull. Since that time he lost the collar entirely. In short there is slight room for error in stating that this is in fact bull #40, but the preponderance of the evidence points to it being him. If anyone knows differently please let me know.
At any rate, noted outdoor writer and elk enthusiast Carol Mulvihill (the elklady) was kind enough to provide us with a summary of the results of the elk hunt as she knew them as of November 9th and included in the report is the fact that #40 was taken this year.
She spent the first three days of season at the check station and also interviewed elk biologist, Jon DiBerti on Thursday of that week. She received the final summary of the hunt from Mr. DiBerti early this week and will be reporting on this in this Saturday's edition of The Endeavor News, a newspaper which covers events in Potter and Cameron Counties and surrounding areas. Ms. Mulvihill is a regular columnist for the paper. After two weeks, stories are available to the general public to be read in their entirety online(only the beginning portion is initially available). One may purchase a subscription to the online edition of the paper and read the article immediately upon publication.
Here is the information that Ms. Mulvihill provided us:
There were 59 licenses for the regular season 6-day Nov. PA elk hunt 2009, 20 bull tags and 39 cow tags. A total of 43 elk were harvested in the regular Nov. season this year: 19 antlered and 24 antlerless.
This compares with 45 licenses for last year's (2008) hunt, when 40 tags were filled during the regular season, 17 bulls and 23 antlerless elk were taken, and 5 antlerless tags remained unfilled.
So even though there were more licenses issued for this year's elk hunt, the harvest was very similar to last year.
These are the collared animals taken:
Collared bulls harvested: 9B, 5C,13, 47, 23, 7B, and 40 (remember this big bull #40, Willard? He lost his collar in the rut a couple years ago, still had ear tags. He came from Quehanna to Winslow Hill ( a distance of 18 air miles) each year for the rut, and then returned home.
Bull 7B was the 10 x 11 bull from Sinnemahoning State Park. It was seen at Hicks Run Cemetery and near Grant, during and after the rut. This bull was killed by woman elk hunter Lisa Banesick late on Wed 11/05/09., guided by Cody Ball, Janet Colwell's daughter, of Hicks Run Outfitters. It was brought in to the check station on Thursday -- it's the one that Jeff Thomas told you about.
Collared cows harvested: 80, 28, 3C, 48, and 74.
According to DeBerti, the highest green-scored bull this year was taken on day-one (Monday) in Frenchville by Reed Bamberger, guided by Jack Manack. The antler net green score of his bull was 422 in the non-typical category. Lisa Banasick's bull, taken Thursday, was not green-scored at the check station.
PGC regional staff, Rick Macklem and Tony Ross did the green scoring at the check station on Mon-Wed, then had to return to the regional office Wed. afternoon. The scoring drew a big crowd and was fascinating to watch.
Anyway, the net green score of 422 for Bamberger's bull is significant. Remember John Shirk's bull from 2006 hunt, that is currently #1 Non-Typical record elk in Pennsylvania. Ultimately, after being challenged and rescored, it ranked 13th in the World, instead of 7th in the World.
After rescoring, the final net Boone and Crockett net score of Shirk's bull was 425 and 2/8. Since then, some of the world records have been broken, but Shirk's bull is still #1 Non-Typical bull elk in PA. I know this because I was at the PGC awards ceremony when he was honored in Sept. 2008.
Bamberger's bull will receive a final Boone & Crockett score after a 60-day drying period. Usually several inches fall of the score due to shrinkage that occurs.
Above Information courtesy of Carol Mulvihill
Coming Soon: Some thoughts on the elk hunt as expressed in a letter by a prominent member of the firearms and hunting community.