From the Field

Connecting YOU with Wildlife – Pennsylvania Game Commission

“Deer” Santa–Gifts for Outdoors People

The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Outdoor Shop offers several NEW gift options for the holiday season.

Pennsylvania Game Commission Game Cookbook, Second Edition

PGC Cook Bookt  600 x 600

Back by popular demand, the Pennsylvania Game Commission released The Pennsylvania Game Cookbook, Second Edition. The mouthwatering small game, big game and migratory game bird recipes have been tried, tasted and submitted by wild game hunters and cooks. In addition, readers will find field dressing and preparation guidelines to help hunters take the game from the field to the table. $9.43 (plus tax and shipping)

Pennsylvania Deer Hunting, Through the Pages of Game News


Outdoor writer, Tyler Frantz, paged through 960 back issues of Game News magazine to piece together the collection of deer-hunting stories now contained within the 174-page softbound book. Each chapter is bound by a common thread, be it the advent of bowhunting in the 1950s, the buck-hunting boom of the 60s, or the return to primitive black powder hunting in the 70s; this book is a journey through our state’s whitetail hunting history. $15.50 (plus tax and shipping)

2014 Big Game Records Book


The Big Game Records book contains nearly 4,000 entries in 10 categories and is the complete official listing of all trophy big game animals taken in the Keystone State. A few of the trophies listed in the records were taken 100 or more years ago, but many others have been taken in recent years. The scoring program uses the Boone & Crockett Club measuring system. The record book is not only interesting, but it can be used as a tool to identify where the “big ones” are being taken. The book also illustrates color pictures of some of the trophy big game animals. $6.00 (plus tax and shipping)

Hunters, wildlife watchers and outdoor adventurers may also be interested in these books: (links)

Loved one not a book worm? Don’t fret. Look over these other possibilities for:

Patch Collectors:

  • Youth Hunt Patches (NEW in 2014)
  • Triple Trophy Patches
  • Upland Bird Series Patches
  • Elk Hunt Patches
  • Field Notes Patches
  • Working Together for Wildlife Patches
  • Working Together for Wildlife Patches Display Frame

Click to view more patches.

Wildlife Art Enthusiasts

  • Working Together for Wildlife prints
  • Duck Stamp prints
  • Fine Art prints

View wildlife art prints.



Wildlife Watchers

Additional items are available for sale online in the Outdoor Shop.

The Story of Doe #151

Our deer biologists receive a lot of photos of deer. Last month they received one of a doe with an ear tag in it and found the doe had an interesting story. The deer team wrote this article to describe their discovery:

2014 lost run rubs 057

Deer Tag #151

A gentleman gave us a ring to tell us about a picture his trail camera had captured of a doe with an ear tag. The photo was clear enough to make out a number – 151. It certainly looked like one of our ear tags – same size and shape. Over the years, we have captured and tagged thousands of deer. We have also trapped deer in the same study areas for multiple projects over multiple years. But try as we might, we could only make out those three numbers on the ear tag from the picture.

Searching for Clues

We searched the database. There were 6 deer that had an ear tag that ended in 151 going back to 2003. Only 2 of them were female. We were getting close but something wasn’t quite right. The ear tags we’ve been using are silver. And, the ear tag in the photo was clearly not silver. We did use brown colored ear tags in one study, our first large scale study that kicked off the research program we have today. That study occurred in 2001. Could this really be a deer from that study?

Mystery Solved

Dusting off the 13 year old database, we found her. Back then she was a cute, cuddly 8.6 lbs fawn in the Quehanna Wild Area. Caught in the very same area where her picture was taken 13 and half years later! Our last contact with Ms. 151 was in February 2002 when her telemetry collar fell off as it was designed to do.

A Long Life

What does she look like 13.5 years later? From the photo, she looks great! Given what we know about fawn and doe survival rates in Pennsylvania, only 3% would reach the age of 13. She probably gave birth to more than 20 fawns. She has outsmarted every coyote, bobcat, bear, and hunter in the area. She was tougher than the last 13 winters and has welcomed every spring that follows.


So the next time you see a doe in the woods, take a minute to think about the life she may have lived. It might be the daughter or granddaughter or great great-granddaughter of Ms. 151. For sure, it won’t be her. She’s too smart to be seen by anybody.

Pennsylvania Elk


Pennsylvania Elk History

Before settlers arrived in Pennsylvania, elk lived throughout the state, with concentrations in the northcentral and Pocono Mountains. By 1867, the species had been extirpated. Ultimately elk vanished from its former range which included New York and New England.

Elk Restoration

From 1913 to 1926 the Game Commission released a total of 177 elk in Blair, Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Elk, Forest, Monroe and Potter counties. From 1923 to 1931, hunting seasons on antlered bulls were held, and hunters took 98 of them.

However, a decline in elk numbers, due in part to habitat loss and illegal poaching, closed the 1932 hunting season. And by 1936, only 14 elk remained statewide – all of them in Elk and Cameron counties, which, interestingly, is the area where the last native elk was killed.

Following a reintroduction effort, the herd slowly rebounded. In the first elk survey conducted by the Game Commission and DCNR in 1971, 65 were counted by ground and aerial spotters. By 1980, the number rose to 114. In 1992, the ground spotters were eliminated from the survey and the herd was estimated to number 183.

A three-year trap-and-transfer program launched by the Game Commission in 1998 expanded the elk’s range from 350 to 800 square miles.

 Watch the film: Pennsylvania Elk: Celebrating 100 years.

 Elk Hunting Season Reopened

In 2001, survey work indicated the herd contained more than 700 elk. That same year, the Game Commission once again had an open, but highly regulated elk hunt.

Elk Population

Today, Pennsylvania’s elk herd continues to thrive and provide hunting opportunities for a limited number of hunters each year. The elk herd has continued to grow since the Pennsylvania elk hunting season re-opened in 2001. One-hundred years after restoration efforts began, the herd numbers about 950 animals.

How to Apply for an Elk License

The application for the elk drawing goes on sale at all of our issuing agents and online at in June when the new license year licenses go on sale.  That date is yet to be determined but is usually the second or third Monday in June. Elk license applications are due July 31 and applicants will be randomly selected for licenses in a drawing held on the third weekend of August. The number of elk allocations varies by year. In 2014, 26,480 hunter applied for 108 licenses.

Preference Points

Since the 2003-04 license year, unsuccessful applicants have been granted preference points in future drawings.  For each unsuccessful application, one point is added to their record. First time applicants have won in the past.  You can read more about the elk application process in the Hunting & Trapping Digest.

Elk Management Area

The Elk Management Area is bounded to the west by US-219, to the North by US-6, to the East by PA-287 and the South by US-220 and I-80 (it includes all of 2H and most of 2G).  All together the area is greater than 3500 square miles and over 70% public land.


Elk Viewing Locations

Pennsylvania elk provide wonderful wildlife watching opportunities. The Game Commission has highlighted viewing areas on the website. The Game Commission’s Elk Tour app also provides off-the-beaten-path locations where elk may be spotted in the northcentral region.

Elk News!

Those who subscribe to the Game Commission’s news e-mails, Facebook page or Twitter page receive reminders of license application dates and season openers. People who subscribe to a Game Commission e-mail list before December 15 will be entered into a weekly gift card drawing for Cabela’s or Field and Stream!

What to Do if You Witness a Wildlife Code Violation: 7 Tips

YOU can help protect wildlife by reporting violations to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Wildlife Conservation Officers cannot be all places at all times. The Game Commission relies on people like you to be the extra eyes and ears in Penn’s woods.

What should you do if you witness a wildlife crime? Note as many details as possible.

  1. Remember the suspect’s physical description, so that you can inform an officer.
  2. Try to secure names and addresses of other witnesses and any information they may have about the violation or the suspect.
  3. Note any physical evidence such as animal parts, type of firearm, and cartridge cases.
  4. Write down the suspect’s vehicle information: license number, make, year, color and other relevant information.
  5. Determine the species and number of wildlife animals involved in the suspected violation.
  6. Take note of the location of the suspected violation
  7. Then call the appropriate Game Commission region office to share details of the suspected violation. The more information you can provide, the faster the incident can be investigated and the potential violator can be caught.

In a recent news release, you can read about how a Pennsylvania resident helped the Game Commission to catch an elk poacher.

Elk poaching case

Here are some example of game law violations and revocation periods:

  • Unlawful use of lights to take wildlife-Big game up to 5 years for first offense; other wildlife 3 years for first offense
  • Buying or selling wildlife or edible parts contrary to law- Threatened or endangered species-7 years first offense; big game-up to 5 years first offense; other wildlife- 3 years first offense
  • Take, injure, kill, possess or transport big game during closed season or beyond daily or season bag limits- up to 5 years first offense
  • Hunting of furtaking while on revocation-5 years
  • Killing or attempting to kill through the use of bait as an enticement- bear or elk- 3 years; all other game 2 years
  • Killing wounding or attempting to kill a deer with a firearm during the archery season- 2 years
  • Disturbing traps of another- 1 year
  • Trapping/furtaking during closed season- 1 year

If you see any of the above illegal activity or other game code violations, please notify a region Game Commission office. You may choose to remain anonymous.

Pennsylvania Fluorescent Orange Requirement Charts

Jack-o’-lanterns, pumpkin pie, falling leaves and candy corn all display the color that we associate with autumn—orange! Many hunters also add orange to their fall attire. This fluorescent orange helps hunters to be seen and to see others who are wearing it while afield.  Fluorescent orange requirements vary by game season. The visual charts below come in handy when figuring out which fluorescent orange attire is required.

Click on the images to enlarge.



If you have questions about orange requirements, check the Hunting and Trapping Digest, , e-mail, or call your region office.

Region office contact information can be found here:

Benefits of Bats

As Halloween approaches, images of bats becomes more prevalent. Bats have a bad reputation for carrying diseases and getting tangled in hair. However, these tiny flying mammals provide great benefits to humans.


Bats are the only major predators of night flying insects.

  • Bats play an important role in controlling many insect pests.
  • A single bat can consume as many as 500 insects in just one hour, or nearly 3,000 insects every night.
  • A colony of 100 little brown bats, may consume more than a quarter of a million mosquitos and other insects per night.

Healthy bat populations decrease the demand for chemical pesticides.

  • Bats benefit farmers by eating agricultural pests such as June bugs, stinkbugs, leafhoppers, and corn rootworms.

Bats are great pollinators.

  • Bats helps to pollinate flowers and disperse seeds for countless trees and shrubs.

Bats help to maintain forest health.

  • Some bats feed on forest pests such as tent caterpillar moths.

Bat droppings in caves support ecosystems of unique organisms

  • Cave bat droppings support bacteria that is used in detoxifying wastes, improving detergents and producing antibiotics.


Once people learn the beneficial role that bats play in controlling insects, they often want to attract bats to their yards and garden.

Bat boxes provide shelter opportunities for bats. Plans for bat boxes can be found on the Game Commission website. A bat box may remain vacant because of other roosts in the area. However if roosts are scarce, bats may move in quickly.

-Excerpts from:

A Homeowner’s Guide to Northeastern Bats and Bat Problems, Penn State Extension

and Year of the Bat 2011-12, Bat Facts, Bat Conservation International


law enforcement
Urging State Senate to Increase Officer Safety

Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough today urged the state Senate to act quickly to pass legislation that would allow Wildlife Conservation Officers working for the Game Commission and Waterways Conservation Officers working for the state Fish and Boat Commission to wear body cameras in performance of their official duties.

The state House of Representatives overwhelmingly has supported House Bill 2178, which was sponsored by state Rep. Dan Moul, R-Adams County. The bill passed the House in June by a vote of 191-5. Hough urged the Senate to follow suit.

Mobile Video-Recording Devices Would Be Helpful During Fall Hunting Seasons

“As most Pennsylvanians know, the fall hunting seasons are almost here, and our officers already have begun ramping up patrols to stop poaching activity and other illegal practices,” Hough said. “Mobile video-recording devices have been shown to make the jobs of law-enforcement officers safer, and a timely vote by Senators to allow our Wildlife Conservation Officers to wear the cameras now, as they enter their busiest time of year, would have an immediate impact with measurable results. “I thank Senators in advance for making officer safety a high priority,” Hough said.

The use of body cameras already has been expressly approved by the state Legislature for other police agencies statewide. The devices, which can be clipped onto an officer’s uniform, are similar to the dashboard cameras installed in most law-enforcement vehicles. The mobile cameras are considered especially suitable for Wildlife Conservation Officers, who often patrol while on foot.

Cameras Help to Defuse Hostile Situations

The mere presence of cameras can quickly defuse what might otherwise become hostile situations, and cameras often capture valuable evidence that increases the chances of successful prosecutions.

Cameras Support Transparency

A report from the Department of Justice concluded that when implemented correctly, body-worn cameras can help strengthen the policing profession. These cameras can help promote agency accountability and transparency, and they can be useful tools for increasing officer professionalism, improving officer training, preserving evidence, and documenting encounters with the public.

Cameras Already Purchased

The Game Commission in 2012 purchased body cameras for its officers, and officers used them briefly in the field before the law was changed to provide that only state and municipal police officers could use body cameras. Moul, whose legislative district includes the area of Adams County where Wildlife Conservation Officer David L. Grove was shot and killed by a poacher in 2010, sponsored the legislation as a way to increase officer safety. The Senate could vote on the bill as early as this week.


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