Elk hunt attracts hunters, visitors to Elk County

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BENEZETTE, ELK COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ)– General elk hunting season is underway and hunters lucky enough to get a license will have to make a stop in Benezette before going home.

Successful hunters are required go to the Elk Country Visitor center to have their elk weighed, tested and sampled.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission gave out around 100 general season hunting licenses this year.

The Game Commission holds a check station to gather information on the elk herd.

“It’s used for health monitoring, it’s an easy opportunity for us to get a tremendous amount of data from the elk in a short time frame,” Game Commission elk biologist Jeremy Banfield said.

Even those without licences stop by to experience what Elk County has to offer.

Regis Kostelink, his brother Mike, and friend Kenny Gunner traveled from the Pittsburgh area to see the day’s events.

“We come up four of five times a year,” Kostelink said. “It’s only 105 miles away, so that’s close for us.”

Which is exactly what Matthew Castle, owner of the Benezette Hotel and Restaurant, said keeps the local businesses alive.

“We’re a tourist town, we thrive off of the tourism here, so it’s been pretty good the last couple of months.” Castle said.

This is the second year the visitor center’s hosted the elk check station. Its the only one in the state.

Keystone Elk Country Alliance operations manager Carla Wheler said the tourism during hunting season is different from rutting season.

Ffolks get to have a really good educational experience about Pennsylvania’s elk, about the health of the herd, if they have questions about the elk hunting season, they can get those answered,” Wheler said.

General elk hunting season goes until Saturday.

The Game Commission estimates a minimum of 920 elk in Pennsylvania, which is how they determine how many licenses to give each year.

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