Those whose names have been drawn will tell you — there's nothing like the opportunity to pursue Pennsylvania's elk.
But those who don't act fast will miss out on their chance to participate in Pennsylvania's 2015 elk hunt.
The deadline to enter the annual drawing for elk licenses is July 31.
Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough urged hunters to be mindful of the deadline.
"We have world-class elk here, and being selected for a license to hunt them represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Hough said. "But you have to submit an application for a chance to take part and, remember, the clock is ticking."
The drawing will be held Aug. 15 in Benezette, Pa. as part of the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Elk Expo.
Applications can be submitted anywhere hunting licenses are sold, or online at the Game Commission's website, www.pgc.state.pa.us. Perhaps the easiest way to submit an online application is by clicking on the "Elk Hunting" icon on the website's homepage.
Applicants must pay a $10.70 non-refundable application fee to be included in the drawing.
This year's drawing provides a greater opportunity for hunters to obtain an elk license. The number of licenses to be allocated has been increased to 116, up from the 108 licenses issued in the 2014-15 season.
On the date of the drawing, hunters will be selected for 21 licenses for antlered elk, or bulls, and 95 licenses for antlerless elk, or cows.
Individuals are not required to purchase a resident or non-resident general hunting license to apply for the drawing. However, hunters who are drawn for a license must hold a valid general hunting license and a valid elk license in order to hunt elk.
Adult general hunting licenses cost $20.70 for residents and $101.70 for non-residents, and elk license fees are $25 for residents and $250 for non-residents.
Those who enter the drawing but are not selected to purchase an elk license still benefit by increasing their chances to be selected in coming years.
Each applicant in the drawing receives a preference point that will serve to multiply the number of chances the applicant receives in subsequent drawings. Individuals who applied in each year from 2003 through 2014, but were not awarded an elk license, have 12 preference points heading into this year's drawing. If they submit an application this year, they will have their name entered into the drawing 13 times (12 preference points in addition to the point from this year's application.)
Additionally, hunters who want to earn a preference point for this year, but know that they would not be able to participate in the elk hunting season if drawn, have the option of simply purchasing a preference point for $10.70. While they will not be included in the drawing for the 2014 elk licenses, they will continue to build their preference points.
Those applying for an elk license can choose either an antlered or antlerless elk license, or they may select either-sex on their application. For those who select "antlered only," if they are drawn after the antlered licenses are allocated, they will not receive an elk license. For those who do receive an antlered elk license, they will not be permitted to re-apply for future elk hunting opportunities for five years. However, those who received an antlerless elk license in any of the previous hunts may submit an application this year.
Applicants also have the opportunity to identify their elk hunt zone preference, or they may select "NP" (no preference). If drawn and their preferred hunt zone is filled, applicants will be assigned to another zone, so identifying a preference doesn't change the odds of being drawn..
To find out the status of an application, go to the Game Commission website (www.pgc.state.pa.us), and click on the blue "Buy a License" box in the upper right corner of the homepage. Click on the "Purchase License Permit and or Application/Replace License and or Permit" option, which includes the ability to "Check on the status of any Lottery Application," scroll down and click on the "Start Here" button at the bottom of the page. At this page, choose one of the identification options below to check your records, fill in the necessary information and click on the "Continue" button. Click on the appropriate residency status, which will display your current personal information. At the bottom of the page, choose the "Check on the status of any Lottery Application" button, and then hit "Continue."
Details on the elk season and drawing are available on pages 64 to 69 of the 2015-16 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, which is provided to license buyers and may be viewed on the agency's website.
By law, only one application is permitted per person per year, and the Pennsylvania Automated License System will prohibit an individual from submitting more than one application.