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Area hunters have great success bagging big elk

| Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, 6:57 p.m.
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Harry Maurer poses with the 7-by-7 bull elk he harvested this year in the Medix Run area of Elk County.

It was all or nothing for Harry Maurer.

The Elizabeth man was one of 86 hunters who drew a tag to hunt a Pennsylvania elk this fall. He was one of just 26 allowed to bag a bull.

He didn't want just any bull, though.

“I told my guide I wanted one that scored 350 or better,” Maurer said, referring to the Boone and Crockett scoring system that factors the length, width and diameter of antlers. “I figured this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, so I didn't want to settle for anything less.”

It took awhile, but he got the animal he wanted.

The 70-year-old Maurer shot one with a 7-by-7 rack that scored in the high 360s at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 8, the next-to-last day of the season.

“I saw a lot of elk. The guides put me on bulls every day,” Maurer said. “But I was almost resolved to the fact that I was coming home with an empty tag. I wasn't sure it was going to happen.”

Jim Bayne knows how that feels.

The New Kensington man applied for his elk license about 15 minutes before the midnight deadline this past summer. He drew a bull tag, and had a chance at an elk on the season-opening Monday. It was lying in tall grass when his guide first spotted it.

“All I could see was his antlers. They looked like tree branches,” Bayne said. “When he stood up, I raised my gun, but the sun coming through my scope just blinded me.”

He wasn't able to get a shot then, or for several days afterward. It wasn't until Thursday that he was able to connect with a 4-by-5 elk that had one broken antler beam.

“It was an experience, I can tell you that. It was the hunt of a lifetime, for me anyway,” said Bayne, 72.

That's also how Eddie Thomas of Marianna described his hunt. The 75-year-old has taken elk before, but the 6-by-7 he got here in Pennsylvania was his nicest, he said.

He had done some preseason scouting with his guide and identified three bulls he was interested in. The two largest never presented themselves during the season; the third did, and “it was too good to pass up.”

His opportunity to kill it came while it was standing on an island in Simmemahoning Creek, however.

When he put it down, his guides and a crew of volunteers had to wade through chest-deep water to reach the 785-pound animal, then load it into a canoe and float it downstream to a place where it could be retrieved.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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