Getting the chance to take a Pennsylvania elk, which hadn't been hunted in more than half a century, was big news to hunters. An interesting side note – on several occasions while hiking along the Woodring Farm Trail, I’ve encountered black squirrels. For the best results, use binoculars and keep a safe distance between yourself and wildlife. Deer, turkeys and quail topped the list of game animals the agency bought and released. During the next several weeks, thousands of visitors armed with binoculars, spotting scopes or cameras will travel to the north-central Pennsylvania to view the wild elk living there. Most studies during the '80s focused on elk movements and home range. Under the old census, about 60 people, many of whom were ground observers, and a helicopter were used to cover the territory used by elk. Prior to this Bowers' statement, farmers thought it was illegal to shoot elk for crop damage. In 1913 the Pennsylvania Game Commission began reintroducing elk in Pennsylvania. "Our effort to secure an appropriation through which to pay for [crop] damages done by ... protected wild creatures resulted in failure, many of the members of the Legislature refusing to support this position because, as they said, of the disposition of many farmers and fruit growers to present exaggerated claims, and the almost utter impossibility upon the part of the Game Commission to refute the claim as made," wrote Kalbfus in 1917. “Elk’s original settlers were Iroquois Indians and by 1798, Quakers from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting had established a school for them, at the request of Chief Cornplanter, on their grant along the Allegheny River,” Boozer wrote. Albany — Neighboring Pennsylvania’s elk restoration effort is a modern-day success story, with the Keystone State’s elk herd attracting thousands of elk-viewing visitors annually and a limited hunt drawing widespread interest for the coveted tags. In 1967, agency biologist Harvey Roberts suggested: "Due to the fact that we have never studied our elk herd, little or nothing is known concerning limiting factors, etc. The last 4 elk viewing areas I’m going to talk about span multiple counties in PA Elk Country. Elk, or wapitis as they were called by native Americans, were doggedly pursued wherever they could be found in colonial Penns Woods. The meeting, which attracted governmental officials, legislators, farmers and hunters quickly became a sounding board for disgruntled farmers and ambitious planners. Home range and movements also varied by season. Short answer – no! "Some range and movements of elk varied greatly between the sexes and seasons of the year," agency biologist Rawland D. Cogan reported in 1987. In 1952, Pennsylvania Game News reported, "Today's elk population probably numbers less than 50," a proclamation that surely turned some heads. Pennsylvanias elk hunt has continued every year since 2001, annually drawing about 20,000 applicants for the elk licenses made available. Elk showed a preference for herbaceous openings in the spring, summer and fall, and clearcuts in the winter.". The effects of disease and parasites are totally unknown. Many agency officials considered the hunt an alternative to the use of spotlights and rifles to resolve elk crop damage, a tool that could be used for selective harvest and customized management. Looking for a more nearby, mid-day diversions when the elk are typically least active? Over this 25-year period, the leading causes of death in the herd were elk taken illegally and those shot for crop damage. During most of the year, the best time to see elk is at dusk and dawn. Crude estimates, which were rarely conservative, suggested the Cameron and Elk counties herd numbered in excess of 200 animals. In addition, strip-mined areas were reclaimed in the herd's primary stomping grounds. "The more we do for the elk, the more they seem to respond to it," surmised former agency biologist William Drake, who had worked with the states elk for some time. A person who suffers elk damage has every right, morally and legally, to kill an elk.". The oldest known cow in Pennsylvania was 32, and the oldest bull was 15. There are many places to see wildlife across Pennsylvania, from elk in the north to bats in the south. It was a proactive management approach to limiting elk conflicts and the potential for habitat deterioration. In the Centre County portion of the Sproul State Forest, both the Yost Run Falls and Fields Ridge Road areas provide good opportunities to see elk. The Pennsylvania Wilds is home to the largest elk herd in the northeast US. The last two reports of elk being hunted include one supposedly taken not far from St. Marys by an Indian named Jim Jacobs. Elk unafraid in Elk County PA VISIT: Elk County Visitor’s Center, Benezette. Thanks – I have not heard that about Winslow Hill, but then again I’ve been staying in Clearfield and Cameron counties for my elk viewing. Since it can never be possible to have an open season on elk, it seems foolish to me to try to provide habitat that would tend to increase the population.". Citing farmers for killing elk causing crop damage was something Game Commission officials wanted to avoid. Elk County is a county in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 31,946. The project was started to accommodate the primary elk ranges steadily growing population, which had begun expanding on its own into western Clinton and northern Clearfield counties. Elk bugling in Benezette. The park is open every day of the year, sunrise to sunset. Keating Mountain Road is another spot where I’ve encountered elk, as it winds it’s way up (or down) the mountain between Keating and several roadside scenic overlooks. World War II was a tough act to top. Monroe County farmers, however, took matters into their own hands before the Game Commission chose a course of action. Bucktail Overlook, off of Mason Hill Road is sometimes locally referred to as the Top of the World, and that’s exactly how you’ll feel when you’re standing there! The plan, which established the state's first elk management objectives, sought to improve habitat for elk on public lands and render technical assistance to landowners who were frequently troubled by elk. Outside the Visitor Center, 3 separate food plots and viewing areas offer visitors an excellent chance to observe real live elk doing real elk things! Its county seat is Ridgway. came to a head at an October 1970 meeting in Emporium. While Fields Ridge Road winds its way 6 miles through the forest, dead-ending at a magnificent overlook. Captive elk live longer than wild elk. I’ll start out with 6 locations in Benezette and Elk County, the unofficial “Elk Capitol of Pennsylvania“, and then move outward to the neighboring counties. Talk of the herd being exterminated by farmers spread like wildfire. From 1975 to 2000, no more than five elk are known to have died from brain worm in any year. Efforts to restore elk to Pennsylvania started in about 1913 with the release of western elk. Elk were prospering everywhere. The creation of the Game Commission in 1895 paved the way for an ambitious effort to replenish and provide additional protection to many of the states dangerously low wildlife populations. In regards to the elk tourism attraction/management area, he noted that sportsmen's dollars shouldn't be committed to a "Chamber of Commerce-type program." You’re liable to see elk at any point along Fields Ridge Road, so stay alert! You’ll see it at a pull-off along Route 555. The grounds are maintained beautifully and the staff has always been friendly and … If you’re looking for a fun day trip or a weekend getaway, visit Benezette to see elk in their natural habitat. That the state's elk had endured two score and a handful of years without any management assistance -- save closed season protection -- was a credit to their perseverance and a blessing for Pennsylvanians, who have come to truly appreciate this unique resource. Expanding the elk range was also an important goal of the state's elk management plan, adopted by the PGC in 1996. Even people who are familiar with their haunts find it difficult sometimes to even sight some of these animals. You’ll find the bunkers (there are 2 of them) just off the Quehanna Highway, and you can read a complete write-up on them HERE. The proposed lottery hunt, expected to be an annual event for two to three years, was a response to the increasing crop damage being caused by the growing elk herd, which had doubled in size from 1971 to 1981. In 1930, the bull elk harvest dropped to five, sparking concern among sportsmen. Annual mortality -- elk killed by poachers, for crop damage, by dogs and cars -- seemed to be offsetting reproductive gains. By the 1850s, what remained of Pennsylvania's once mighty elk population was limited to sections of northcentral Pennsylvania, predominantly in Cameron, Elk and McKean counties. Another change that occurred in 2003 was a discontinuation on the limit of nonresident licenses that may be awarded. Over the coming years, the elk population would decline to a low of less than 50. Pa's elk herd is free roaming and they move around constantly. The expanded range encompasses an area that is just the opposite: two-thirds publicly-owned land and one-third privately-owned land. In addition, prescribed burning and mowing were used to improve grasses and clovers, and farmers were enlisted under sharecropping agreements to plant remote herbaceous openings. It increased by an annual average of 20 percent until it hit 135 in 1981. Elk County Courthouse • 250 Main Street • P.O. During the first season hunters took 23 legal bulls. A year later, use of telemetry collars began. The terrain they bounded into was vastly different, the vegetation unfamiliar. Hoover Farm Wildlife Viewing Area is located along the Quehanna Highway at its intersection with Wykoff Run Road in Cameron County, near the Clearfield county line. They seemed to like the silk.". By strategically locating these areas, many elk were persuaded to stay off farmlands, where they'd likely have been killed if they caused crop damage. Never Feed Elk. A 5 minute walk along a trail through the woods brings you out on the edge of this large food plot. The study results reinforced the ongoing management plan, which leaned heavily on creating the types of habitat elk typically seek out. Thank you for sharing not only this collection, but the many, many Bucket List destinations that you have shared. So what I’ve done here is provide you with maps and directions to 15 spots in those 6 counties where I have personally encountered and photographed elk over the past half-dozen years or so. On the opposite side of the Quehanna Highway, you’ll find Table Falls. Sinnemahoning State Park is a long, skinny, 1,910 acre state park spanning Potter and Cameron counties along the First Fork of Sinnemahoning Creek. Several massive food plots dominate the scenery here, and provide ample grazing for the elk that usually fill these fields in the early morning and late afternoon. Any time of year you’re apt to see elk feeding in the field below the scenic overlook at Woodring Farm. State Game Lands 100 comprises 21,054 acres spread across Centre and Clearfield counties. Here the large grassy areas below the dam act like a magnet for elk, especially in the winter. The problem continued, which meant something other than a controversial lottery hunt would have to be tried. But all of that changed briefly in the summer of 1982 when the Game Commission announced it was going to hold a lottery to pick 30 people who would be permitted to kill a Pennsylvania elk. About 50 elk are harvested annually. An interesting roadside attraction between Miller Run Viewing Area and Driftwood is this Tom Mix plaque, dedicated to the locally-born film star of the early 1900s, Tom Mix. The adjacent Russel P. Letterman and Burns Run Wild Areas in Clinton County offer a truly “wild” elk viewing experience similar to the Square Timber Wild Area in Cameron County. In 1981, an elk was fitted with a marking collar for the first time to track movement. Winslow Hill - The most visited elk-viewing site in Pennsylvania, with two established viewing areas, off-road parking, and portable restrooms. The welfare of the elk herd is a shared responsibility. "Either pay for the crop damage or fence in the elk or perhaps fence in the farmers cornfields. Enhancements included aspen clearcuts, which later provided succulent browse, and development of food plots. Word of the proposed hunt, planned for either late 1983 or early 1984, spread like wildfire. Prior to the arrival of European immigrants, elk were found from northern New York to central Georgia. Located 0.45 miles east of Winslow Hill, Woodring Farm offers the chance to see elk at two roadside food plots, as well as a nature trail and a scenic overlook. Within a few years, though, they would be gone. Accompanying the image was the text below: Pennsylvania hunting history was made over the weekend as the first-ever archery elk season opened on Saturday, Sept. 14. Researchers do not know exactly why the elk herd increased from 38 to 135 animals from 1973 to 1981. The program expanded the elk range from about 350 to 800 square miles. In 1927, hunters harvested 26 bulls marking the state's best harvest since the reintroduction. The first elk census, conducted in 1971 under the Penn State study, showed there were about 65 animals. During the next several weeks, thousands of visitors armed with binoculars, spotting scopes or cameras will travel to the north-central Pennsylvania to view the wild elk living there. Paddlers and fishermen will love the Wild & Scenic Clarion River. During the rut (mating period) in September and October, the elk are more active throughout the day as well, which is why this is the most popular time of year for people to visit to PA Elk Country. A second was said to have been taken by a hunter named John D. Decker in 1877 in Centre County. This is one of my favorite roadside elk viewing areas in Cameron County. In the early '90s, elk research concentrated on herd reproduction, calf mortality and health profiles, much of which was accomplished through telemetry and blood analysis. The large food plots which dominate the mountaintop here are often surrounded in the mornings by dense valley fog that forms over the various branches of Sinnemahoning Creek. Elk, or wapitis as they were called by native Americans, were doggedly pursued wherever they could be found in colonial Penns Woods. Box 448 • Ridgway, PA 15853 Elk County Courthouse Annex • 300 Center Street • P.O. But the proposed elk hunt, as appealing as it was to most hunters statewide, was not popular in Elk and Cameron counties, the elk herd's stomping grounds. Fantastic collection of Elk viewing destinations Rusty. They were a unique resource. The thrust of the proposal was tourism and economics. In addition, biologists developed and implemented in 1992 a new census technique -- a total aerial survey -- that provided more reliable population estimates. Inside the lodge-like Visitor Center, you’ll find LOTS of educational displays and information about all facets of elk life and elk herd management in Pennsylvania. Click on any of the icons below to get connected to PA Bucket List on social media! That’s not to say there aren’t other great elk viewing areas in PA elk country, because there are MANY! Proudly founded in 1681 as a place of tolerance and freedom. A large gravel parking lot is located next to the bridge over Sinnemahoning Creek, behind the Benezett Store. Only bulls with four or more points to at least one antler were legal game. In subsequent years, the number of elk being shot for crop damage declined. Approximately 0.8 miles east of Woodring Farm, you’ll find Dents Run Viewing Area along Winslow Hill Road. 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