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Outdoors notebook: Elk tag program may get reboot

| Sunday, April 20, 2014, 9:30 p.m.

Lawmakers are looking to extend Pennsylvania's “special elk conservation tag” program, with a twist.

For the past five years, it has allowed the Pennsylvania Game Commission to give one bull elk hunting license a year to a sportsmen's group to raffle off to the highest bidder. The money raised was split between the group and the commission, with the latter's share earmarked for things like improving elk habitat.

The original legislation behind the program expired last year, however. Unless it's renewed, no elk auction will take place in 2014.

A couple of lawmakers, including state Rep. Marc Gergely of Allegheny County, are seeking co-sponsors for a bill that would reauthorize the conservation tag program. It would take things one step further, though.

Their bill would allow the commission to give away a second bull elk tag but only to the Keystone Elk Country Alliance. The Alliance runs the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette, Elk County.

The bill is scheduled to be debated by the House of Representatives game and fisheries committee on April 28.

Archery bear

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has expanded bear hunting opportunities in a number of ways across the state in recent years.

Might another expansion be on the horizon?

One board member is asking agency staff to explore the idea. Commissioner Ralph Martone of New Castle is interested in adding a second week to the statewide archery bear season. He specifically wants it to overlap with the final week of deer season, whether by starting the archery bear season a week sooner or the archery deer season a week later, he said.

Another commissioner said he'd support the idea, but only under the right conditions. Jay Delaney of Luzerne County said he's for adding a week to the archery bear season, but not if it means giving bowhunters an additional week for deer.

Sunday hunting

Sunday hunting opportunities are poised to expand again within a neighboring state.

Two bills that passed Maryland's state Senate by votes of 43-4 have gone to Gov. Martin O'Malley for his signature. One would allow Sunday hunting for all species in Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties. The other would allow for Sunday deer hunting in Allegany, Frederick, Garrett and Washington counties.

Currently, Maryland allows limited Sunday hunting only for deer on private land.

Virginia recently relaxed its ban on Sunday hunting, and West Virginia is looking to do the same. Organizers of the national Sunday Hunting Coalition have said Pennsylvania is their next target.

Big Bass Bash

A couple of local anglers made waves at Cabela's 2014 Big Bass Bash, a collegiate bass fishing tournament for individual anglers held on Kentucky Lake earlier this month.

Joanthan Coholich of La Roche College weighed in a 5.44-pound bass on Day 2 of the event, which ultimately allowed him to finish 15th among 216 anglers. La Roche's Joe Malachosky weighed in a 4.11-pound bass at one point and finished tied for 59th.

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

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