Pennsylvania is home to the largest wild elk herd in the northeastern United States. As many as 1,400 elk freely roam across 3,000 square miles in the north-central region of the state, mostly within Elk, Cameron, Clinton, Clearfield, and Centre counties.
The 2023 elk application period is February 1-July 16, 2023. The annual drawing will take place July 29, 2023 during the Elk Expo. Successful applicants who provide a phone number or email will be notified promptly by those methods, while others will receive notification by postal mail.
To apply for the 2023 elk drawing, go to huntfish.pa.gov. Pennsylvania accepts online applications for the elk drawing, or you can apply at any of the point-of-sale locations through the PALS system. Pennsylvania does not accept party applications for elk. For most of the seasons, there are four options when an applicant applies:
Non-residents and residents have equal opportunity in drawing elk licenses. There is no non-resident quota. Non-residents are eligible to apply for all available elk lottery hunts, which include rifle, archery, and antlerless. Hunters who are successful in drawing a bull elk license will not be eligible to apply for five years for any elk license. Elk licenses are awarded by a lottery system, and hunters must apply separately for all seasons they wish to be eligible to hunt. Each application costs $11.97, meaning a hunter can enter all three drawings for $35.91. Individuals can be drawn for a maximum of one elk license per license year. To check the status of an elk license application, go to huntfish.pa.gov. Log in to your account and scroll to the bottom left-hand corner under applications and points where your bonus points awarded to date will be displayed. If you would like to check your application for the current year, click “Submit Applications.”
The $11.97 application fee for each elk application is non-refundable. You may use Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, Diner’s Club, or eCheck to apply for an elk license.
Except during the archery season, elk hunters and those accompanying them must wear at least 250 square inches of fluorescent orange, visible 360 degrees on the head, chest, and back combined.
Hunters need to be at least 12 years of age to apply for elk.
One bonus point is earned for each unsuccessful application, but points are exclusive to each season. Any existing bonus points for the general elk season will not be applied to the archery or late seasons. For example, if you have previously earned 5 bonus points for the general season and this year you apply for the archery season and the general season, your existing bonus points are only included in your general season application. If you are unsuccessful in drawing, you would earn one bonus point for the archery season and one bonus point for the general season, meaning you would now have 1 archery point and 6 general points. Those points would then be included with the following year’s application but only for the season in which they were earned.
Bonus points serve as a multiplier, and your name is entered in the drawing for as many bonus points as you have, effectively increasing the probability of drawing a license. Bonus points reset to 0 if you are drawn for a specific season; however, any points for alternate seasons remain unchanged.
Simple draw odds are no longer available from Pennsylvania. Hunters must select at least one management zone they prefer to hunt. Up to five choices can be selected on the application. Selecting a fallback option can greatly increase the chance of being drawn. Fallback options allow the applicant to be awarded any remaining license available outside of their preferred hunt zone choices.
Pennsylvania does not have any youth- only elk licenses available. Youths may apply for elk after turning 12 years old.
You may use manually-operated centerfire rifles and handguns of at least .26 caliber that propel single-projected ammunition 120 grains or larger and manually-operated or semiautomatic centerfire shotguns at least 12-gauge firing a single projectile. Muzzleloaders must have at least .50 caliber propelling a single projectile weighing at least 210 grains. A bow must have a minimum draw weight of 45 pounds. For archery, you may use any arrow or crossbow bolt with a fixed or mechanical broadhead. The broadhead must have an outside diameter or width of at least 1 inch, and 11 the length may not exceed 3.25 inches. Crossbows must have a minimum peak 12 draw weight of 125 pounds.
Pennsylvania usually offers two special elk 14 conservation licenses. For more information, contact them at 717-787-4250. There are no landowner tags available in Pennsylvania.
If you are successful in drawing an elk license, you may choose not to purchase it. The application fees are non-refundable.
A successful hunter must tag the elk immediately after harvest and mark the kill site before the carcass is moved. Within 24 hours, each hunter who harvests an elk must take it along with their general hunting license and elk license to the official Game Commission check station.
Pennsylvania has the GoHuntPA Toolkit App, which features maps, tracking tools, weather forecasts, social media integration, and more. You can download it from the App Store. The best place to view the elk hunt zones in detail is through the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s online mapping center at http://pagame.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer.
Hunters have successfully harvested elk in every hunt zone. Carefully examine each zone, considering road access and the amount of available public and private land.