Editor’s Note: Elk County Outfitters, 717-439-5795, [email protected] and https://www.facebook.com/elkcountyoutfitters/ is located in north-central Pennsylvania near Caledonia in what’s known as the Pennsylvania elk range. The company, headed-up by Brian Hale, provides guided hunts for the lucky people who win elk tags in the State of Pennsylvania. In the 2022-2023 season, 178 elk tags were available for the entire state, including bull and cow tags. Pennsylvania has three seasons for elk hunting – archery, general and late. In the 2021-2022 season, Elk Country Outfitters guided a total of 36 elk hunters combined between all three seasons.
What Are the Requirements for Pennsylvania Elk Guides: In Pennsylvania, the regulations state that for a guide to receive payment or any kind of monetary reimbursement, he is required to possess a license for the type of animal for which he’s guiding. For instance, if someone from Texas wants to hunt deer in Pennsylvania with a resident who knows where the highest concentration of deer are, that resident must buy a guiding license over the counter. But with elk, neither residents nor non-residents can buy an elk tag over-the-counter.
If someone who draws an elk tag wants to go with a guide, the guide must have a commercial guide permit from the State of Pennsylvania. Elk are not covered by the over-the-counter licenses. Each guide must provide a certain amount of information. Then the state does a background check to make sure the applicant hasn’t had any violations in the past 10 years that are directly related to the taking of game. Therefore, if a person applying for a license has had some sort of game violation in the past 10 years, he or she will be denied an elk license. However, there are no testing or proficiency requirements.
How Brian Hale Picks Guides for Elk Country Outfitters: “In addition to guiding requirements, for me to be an outfitter for elk hunting, I must pay $500 for an outfitter’s license,” Hale explains. “Then, as an outfitter, I must pay $50 for each guide on my staff. The guides are considered sub-permitees. Half my guides have been Pennsylvania elk hunters in the past. But it’s not a prerequisite that the guides from Elk Country Outfitters must have won a tag before to take an elk.”
What’s the Story of Elk Country Outfitters Today: Right now Hale has 36-permitted guides. Hale explains, “Our bull-hunting success ratio for elk season is in the high 90s. The cow hunters are at the 70% rate. Each season, we have offered 100% opportunities for hunters to take elk. In other words, we’ve had all our hunters in position to take elk. Of course, we’ve had quite a few misses too.”
How Long Can a Person Hunt After Drawing a Pennsylvania Elk Tag? Hale mentions that, “Bowhunters have two weeks and three Saturdays they can hunt elk on a tag – about 13 days because we have no hunting on Sundays in Pennsylvania. The early elk season lasts for six days – usually a Monday-Saturday, and generally September 18-24. The general season runs about October 31-November 5. The late season is seven days – Saturday-Saturday. The late season starts around December 31 and lasts until January 7 – usually with snow for that hunt.
“Pennsylvania elk tags don’t cross all three seasons. You can draw one for bow season, middle or late. However, the tags are only for those specific seasons. So, if you draw an archery tag, you can’t hunt in the general or late season.”
On Facebook, people can learn about Elk Country Outfitters and the hunting provided. (See editor’s note at beginning of information for Day 2.) Hale mentions that, “We’ll usually have several posts every week. We also have a website: elkcountyoutfitters.com. Additionally, we hold an annual Elk Expo in the elk range – generally in July – when the Pennsylvania Game Commission releases the names of the people fortunate enough to draw elk tags.”
Expert Guidebooks on Elk Hunting: Best Sellers
Secrets for Hunting Elk
The quickest, easiest (if there is an easy way), and safest way to find and take that bull elk of a lifetime will be to hunt with a guide.
Chad Schearer, a longtime Montana guide and TV personality, told me, “My hunter is my gun. If I get to the elk, and my hunter isn’t with me, then we don’t take the elk. My job is not only to find the elk but also to help the hunter get to the elk and make the experience as enjoyable as I can for him.” That’s the kind of fella with whom I want to go elk hunting.
An elk hunt can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be so tough that you don’t enjoy it. That’s why this elk hunting book starts with the confessions of an elk guide and with Chad Schearer’s philosophy of what the guide and the hunter’s relationship should be.
A good portion of your success will depend on your physical condition, and Matt Morrett of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania explains how an eastern hunter can get ready physically during June and July to hunt western elk, the animals he describes as, “Like deer or turkeys on steroids.”
Wayne Carlton, well-known elk hunter and TV and video personality from Montrose, Colorado, tells us what types of elk calls to use and what to say to the elk. Mike Miller of Colorado, another elk guide and Mossy Oak video personality, has tactics for the best equipment for bowhunting and gun hunting elk.
You’ll learn helpful strategies and hunting tips in this book, as well as some straightforward hunting methods that will help to make your elk hunt more successful.
“Thanks to the advice in your elk hunting books, I was able to call up a nice 6-point (6X6) bull elk! He was bugling like crazy. I called him in from about a ¼ mile away. Called him into bow range (about 40 yards away). It was a thrill!” ~Rob Brannon
VERSIONS: AUDIBLE & KINDLE
Elk: Keys to 25 Hunters’ Success
Often just one tip or tactic makes the difference in whether you take an elk home to dinner or have to hike back to the truck by yourself. In John E. Phillips’ latest elk book, Elk: Keys to 25 Hunters’ Success, you’ll learn from successful elk hunters the strategies they use to find and take elk.
Many know that the technique that seems to work most often is to hunt where other elk hunters don’t and understand where the elk are before you go on a hunt by studying data from each state, visiting HuntData (see chapter 1), examining maps, and reading postings on elk forums.
This book also tells you how to get ready physically for an elk hunt, including participating in Train to Hunt Competitions, what gear you need to take, how to enjoy a successful do-it-yourself elk hunt, or how to pick the best elk guide for you. You’ll also hear about the X System and the Broken Y System of hunting elk.
Although no one person has all the answers on how to help you find and take your elk, I’m convinced that this book’s outdoors men and women will teach you how to have satisfying elk hunts.
As my friend Karl Badger once told me, “Elk hunting doesn’t get any better than when I ride horses into the high backcountry, see two grizzly bears, hear a pack of wolves howl close to camp all night long, eat plenty of delicious food prepared on a fire and enjoy the company of good friends.”
VERSIONS: AUDIBLE, KINDLE & PRINT
How to Find Your Elk and Get Him in Close will teach you the tactics of 10 nationally known elk hunters, to help put that giant bull that’s been screaming at you from afar, in your lap. You’ll learn what some of the best guides, outfitters, and successful elk hunters do to find elk and get them in really close.
Also in this audiobook, you’ll notice that the majority of the experts call elk to within bow range. We selected numerous bowhunters and bowhunting guides, since the bowhunter has to get much closer to a bull than the gun hunter does – often less than 20 or 30 yards – practically in your lap.
On one elk hunt, I’d heard this bull bugle all morning. My guide had called him within 30 yards, and he was standing just inside black timber. I saw the smoke from his nose wafting out into the icy air less than 30-yards away. All the bull had to do was step out, and I could take the shot with my bow. But then, through no fault of my guide or me, the bull vanished.
The only conclusion I could come up with to understand why the bull I wanted to take with my bow hadn’t stepped out and given me a shot, was because he got raptured. He evidently had left the earth with no trace of himself.
This hunt was when I started wanting to learn more about hunting elk up close. In this book, I’ve tried to find some of the most knowledgeable, experienced, and practical elk hunters. I’ve always found that the best way to learn any outdoor skill, is to either hunt or fish with the best sportsmen in that field.
Often, in elk hunting, that means elk guides, who generally hunt every day of the season and receive a salary for every hunter they guide. So, I’ve put together a group of some of the best elk hunters I know to help us all learn how to find bull elk and get them in close.
VERSIONS: AUDIBLE, KINDLE & PRINT
Tomorrow: Pennsylvania’s Elk Hunting Regulations