What Are The Odds Of Drawing A Pa Elk Tag? A Simple Guide

Are you a hunting enthusiast looking to bag an elk in Pennsylvania?

If so, you may be wondering what your chances are of actually drawing an elk tag. The thought of low odds can be discouraging, but don’t let it stop you from applying.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the odds of drawing a Pennsylvania elk tag and provide some helpful tips to increase your chances.

So, grab a cup of coffee and let’s dive in!

What Are The Odds Of Drawing A Pa Elk Tag?

The odds of drawing a Pennsylvania elk tag can vary depending on a few factors. Firstly, it’s important to note that the odds are not necessarily “good,” but they’re not as terrible as some may think.

According to previous harvest statistics and the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the odds of drawing an elk tag can range from 1 in 50 to 1 in 200, depending on the season and type of tag you’re applying for.

However, it’s important to remember that these odds are not set in stone. There are a few things you can do to increase your chances of being drawn.

Understanding The Pennsylvania Elk Tag System

To understand the Pennsylvania elk tag system, it’s important to know that there are three separate seasons for elk hunting: archery, general, and late antlerless. Each season has its own drawing, meaning that you must apply separately for each season you wish to be eligible to hunt.

When applying for an elk tag, you can choose to apply for antlered only, antlerless only, either-sex, or point only. It’s important to note that if you are successful in drawing a bull elk license, you will not be eligible to apply for five years for any elk license.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission awards elk licenses by a lottery system. For each year that you apply and are unsuccessful, your name is added to an electronic “hat,” giving you another chance to be drawn in future years. However, it’s important to remember that your preferred hunt zone has no influence on your chances of being drawn.

When applying for an elk tag, you can now put in 5 different choices for preferred elk zones per season. You can also choose a fallback option, which means that you will accept any antlered, antlerless, or any available tag that is still left in the drawing.

The cost to apply for the elk draw is relatively low compared to other states. The application fee for each of the three seasons is $11.90 per season, allowing hunters to enter all three drawings for just $35.70. Non-residents and residents have equal opportunity in drawing elk licenses, with no non-resident quota in place.

Factors That Affect Your Odds Of Drawing An Elk Tag

Here are some factors that can affect your odds of drawing a Pennsylvania elk tag:

1. Time Windows: Divide up your wish list into short-term (three years or less), medium-term (four to eight years), and long-term (once or twice in your hunting lifetime). Short-term planning is the most important for consistency, as hunts in this category can be drawn with zero to four points or have odds greater than 20% in random draws.

2. Hunt Cycles: Find four or five different hunts across states/species that interest you with the goal of cycling through them as much as possible. For instance, if you consistently apply for two hunts in your short-term group that have at least 20% random odds, in three years your probability of drawing one of these tags is about 74%.

3. Point Systems: In really hard to draw areas, odds are often in the single digits, or even below 1%. To increase the chances of drawing for those who have applied longest, many states have implemented bonus point or preference point systems. However, each state manages their point systems differently, so it’s important to understand how they work before investing time and money into obtaining points.

4. Experience: Experience is a huge deciding factor of who kills an elk and who doesn’t. Brand new hunters who have never elk hunted before will have significantly lower chances of killing an elk than a veteran hunter who has years of experience behind them. The only way to increase your experience is to get out elk hunting as much as possible. Use every hunt as a learning experience and it will begin to increase your chances of killing an elk in the future.

5. Over-the-Counter Tags: Over-the-counter tags have often been viewed as “the last resort” or more difficult tags to hunt on. Some states are moving towards draws or putting a quota on the number of tags given, making OTC more high demand, putting pressure on OTC states. However, there are still plenty of tags available in Pennsylvania, and plenty of people have found success on OTC tags.

By considering these factors and doing your research, you can increase your chances of being drawn for a Pennsylvania elk tag. Remember that while the odds may not be great, someone has to get lucky!

Tips For Increasing Your Chances Of Drawing An Elk Tag

Here are some tips for increasing your chances of drawing an elk tag in Pennsylvania:

1. Apply for multiple seasons: Pennsylvania offers three different elk seasons – archery, rifle, and late season. By applying for multiple seasons, you increase your chances of being drawn for at least one of them.

2. Purchase bonus points: Similar to other states, Pennsylvania offers bonus points that can be purchased to increase your odds of being drawn in future years. Even if you don’t plan on hunting in Pennsylvania this year, purchasing bonus points can pay off in the long run.

3. Consider applying as a group: Pennsylvania allows hunters to apply as a group, with up to six people per group. By applying as a group, you increase your odds of being drawn for at least one member of the group.

4. Apply for a cow/calf tag: While most hunters are focused on drawing a bull tag, applying for a cow/calf tag can increase your odds of being drawn. These tags are often overlooked and can provide a great opportunity to fill the freezer and gain experience.

5. Don’t waste preference points: If you’re planning to hunt a unit and season that can be drawn as a second choice, make sure to put it as your second choice on your application. This way, if you do get drawn for your first choice, you still have the opportunity to gain a preference point for future years.

By following these tips, you can increase your chances of being drawn for an elk tag in Pennsylvania. Remember, the odds may not be great, but with persistence and strategic planning, it’s possible to secure a coveted elk tag.

Alternatives To Drawing An Elk Tag: Other Hunting Opportunities In Pennsylvania

If you’re not lucky enough to draw an elk tag in Pennsylvania, fear not! There are still plenty of other hunting opportunities in the state. One popular game animal is the whitetail deer, which can be found throughout Pennsylvania.

While some states have draw-only systems for non-resident hunters, Pennsylvania offers over-the-counter tags for whitetail deer. Additionally, the state has good public land opportunities for hunting, including Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan.

For those looking to fill their freezer, many states also allow hunters to buy multiple inexpensive doe tags for whitetail deer. This provides a great opportunity for hunters to harvest multiple deer and stock up on meat for the year.

Another option is to apply for other hunting seasons in Pennsylvania. The state offers a variety of hunting seasons for different game animals, including bear, turkey, and small game like rabbit and squirrel.