Three Jefferson County Residents Draw PA Elk Hunting Licenses

shutterstock_136607360BENEZETTE, Pa. (EYT) — Saturday was a lucky day for a number of hunters in the region who hoped to draw an elk hunting license at the PA Great Outdoors Elk Expo in Benezette.

Tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians and non-residents put their names in the hat for one of the coveted 124 tags.

Three hunters from Jefferson County were chosen while two from Clarion County and three from Venango County were selected. All were picked for cow elk tags.

Of the 124 total licenses, just 25 were for bull tags.


Brock Duke, Punxsutawney

Joe Zeitler, Falls Creek

Nicholas Martino, Punxsutawney


Mellissa Rupp, Fairmount City

Brice Stewart, Emlenton

Venango County

Bill Hager, Franklin

John Bartlett, Oil City

Robin Miller, Oil City

Duke, of Punsutawney, has had applied for a license since the first year of the hunt in 2001. He started elk hunting in Colorado four years ago, and last year, his brother-in-law bagged a Rocky Mountain elk while the two hunted together.

“I didn’t plan a hunt out west this year, and my wife was a little disappointed because we really enjoy the meat, but now, it doesn’t matter, we can hunt here,” Duke said.

For Bill Hager, of Franklin, Saturday was a pretty happy one after he received the phone call from the state Game Commission.

“I was pretty happy. You never expect to get drawn, but it’s pretty neat and I’m excited,” Hager said.

Hager is a former teacher at Franklin High School and was the head coach of the 2001 Franklin boys Class AAA state champion boys basketball team.

Ray Benvenuti has already invited Hager to stay at his camp while he hunts and a few other individuals are ready to help out with the hunt as well.

Hager is an avid elk hunter who started going west in 1988.

“My dad and I traveled through Yellowstone National Park when it was burning. We were on our way to Idaho to hunt, and we saw copters dropping water on the fires in the park. My dad bagged a beautiful 6×6 bull, so it was a very memorable trip,” Hager said.

Over the years, Hager has made a total of 12 trips west to hunt elk and he’s bagged four bulls and a cow.

“But I’ve missed three and one was a great 6×6, that was tough to take,” Hager said.

He’s taking another trip west in October to Colorado so the Hagers may need another freezer if he fills both of his tags.

“I’m really looking forward to hunting elk in Pennsylvania. I’ve been over there a number of times, and I’m really looking forward to it,” Hager said.

The state’s 16th elk season kicks off on Halloween and ends November 5.

On Sunday, there was one more elk license winner, Stephen Unis. The special drawing for the conservation license benefits the Keystone Elk Country Alliance.

The conservation license can be used from September 1 to November 5. The winner of the Pennsylvania Elk Conservation Raffle will be permitted to hunt in all elk management zones open to elk hunting.

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