Hunters have a better chance of winning an elk license than golfers have of hitting a hole in one, a biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission said.

Jeremy Banfield compared the odds of nabbing a license to take a bull elk, 1:7,665, to 1:12,500

for scoring an ace on a par-3.

During a webinar on June 12, Banfield said he did research after hearing hunters complain, erroneously, that less likely to win a license than get hit by lightning, 1:700,000.

After hunters win a license during the lottery on Aug. 17, the odds are in their favor. Last year, 99 of 125 licensed hunters took elk.

Even if hunters succeed with all 142 licenses sold this year, the toll won’t harm the state’s elk herd, which Banfield estimates at 1,000 to 1,100.

While bears and coyotes take a few elk calves, the most common source of mortality for elk is car collisions, which claim about 20 a year.

Pennsylvania has learned a lesson about over hunting after elk vanished completely from the state by 1870.

Today’s herd is nearly twice as large as in 2000 when there were 566 elk.

The herd descends from elk brought to Pennsylvania from Yellowstone on trains in 1915.

Better food, public education and moving elk away from farms, where they feast on crops, helped the census jump considerably from 150 in 1990.

Bar graphs shows annual license applicants


This year, hunters have three chances to win a license.

Lotteries will be held for archery season, general season and late season hunting.

Each drawing costs $11.90 to enter and has separate odds. Hunters’ names are throw into the hat an extra time for each year that they entered but lost.

To learn more, check the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s page for elk hunters.