So we had six days to fill our elk tags here in the Pennsylvania general elk season, last Monday through today, which is essentially the firearms season for elk. With business and family commitments, I was able to scout last Sunday and hunt until closing hours Thursday.
Three friends joined me, as scouts and potential draggers if we killed an elk.
We camped out on state forest land, on an old log landing in the middle of the 310,000-acre Sproul State Forest.
Sunday night Saul walked around a road corner into five cow elk, which scattered, but it gave us a place to start.
Monday and Tuesday I was repeatedly into elk, with several really close encounters.
Monday I got right into the one herd holed up in the woods, had some running shots that I didn’t take, and called one in very close until the wind shifted and it bolted.
Tuesday around 6:20pm an elk calf came rocketing out of the woods where the herd was hiding, and this cute little thing attacked the grass in front of me. Technically I was permitted to shoot it, but no way. So I waited for mama elk to join calf elk, and as the beasts were beginning to emerge 100 yards away, the wind (which was wildly varying the entire week) switched to my back, and loud crashes erupted as the herd dove back into the woods.
Monday and Tuesday were constant rain, which is a concern with a percussion rifle. I kept the lock covered and never saw water get anywhere near the ignition or muzzle. Perfect confidence that I could and would kill any legal elk that provided a good broadside shot out to 100 yards.
Wednesday rained crazy hard until noon, so I slept in. Did my best the rest of the day.
Thursday was bloody hot, stinkin hot, and although I started out on great private land overlooking a food plot, with a good wind, nothing showed. Ended my hunt Thursday afternoon until 6:34pm in a primo clearcut location with excellent shooting lanes, with a decent wind…and despite calling lightly a couple times, nothing but a coyote showed up.
As of yesterday late, one of the three bull tags for elk zone 13 had been filled, and just one cow tag of six allotted had been filled. It was a real tough place to hunt. Even for the hunters with modern rifles and professional elk guides.
But I got to spend campfire time with good friends, and I carried the .62 percussion rifle the entire time, which I enjoyed greatly, and which apparently brought humor to all the local bow hunters (deer) and elk hunters. What can I say? I’d prefer a real hunt over an assassination any day.
So no elk brought home, but I learned a lot, DIY hunted hard, saw beautiful country, and spent time with good men I care about. Who worked hard scouting for the hunter every day. Thank you George, Saul, and Scott. And thank you to the members here who cheered me on before the hunt. The encouragement was much appreciated.
View attachment 173147 I thoroughly enjoyed your post and accompanied pictures, thanks for sharing with us.
I hunted in McKean Cnty, near Bradford, Penna. Where was you are located exactly? I loved the Penna. woods!Yes, Folsom was a contemporaneous St Louis competitor with Hawken. The few known Folsom rifles that are in museums and that have appeared at auction are all full stocks with a unique butt plate. You will really like the .58, because these big bores release crushing power.
We were camped on Sproul State Forest on an old log landing near the junction of State Line Road and Panther Road. That’s northern Centre County, and near the Clinton County line. We hunted SGL 100, which is about 23,000 acres, as well as parts of Sproul and some private land. It’s a really nice piece of this planet. McKean County is not too far away and is not real different in topography or tree cover.I hunted in McKean Cnty, near Bradford, Penna. Where was you are located exactly? I loved the Penna. woods!
Thank you, Ray. It took twenty years of lottery applications to get this tag, and if I go another twenty years of applications before getting the next PA elk tag, I’ll be just shy of eighty and hunting from my walker.Sounds like you had a hunt to remember! Congratulations! Hope you are successful next go around!
Good question, and yes, the elk hunter is limited to i think ten “subpermittees” (what we would call scouts and helpers), the first four of which are free, and all subsequent ones are $25 each. If they are with the hunter, they must have a current PA hunting license, 250 inches of fluorescent orange, and some other stuff I forget. In Zone 13, which is vast, having the guys out scouting for elk is the best use of them, while the hunter is alone.Most of the best hunts and memorable times have been like that! ...no game taken ... but great memories for life!
Scouts - Curious, are there any 'limits' there? Like the # of scouts who can be on the hunt with you and/or assist you? Or the maximum distance they can be away from you?
Good point. We also hunted SGL 100, as well as private ground. The heat and the rain and the wildly varying winds made elk hunting there tougher than usual. 33% success rate for bulls, 50% success rate for cows.An self guided elk hunt without a kill beats a guided hunt any day. You were indeed successful. Sproul is a tough place to hunt.
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