KARTHAUS – With this year's week-long elk hunting season in full swing, Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) personnel and spectators at the elk check station, located at the Game Commission's maintenance shed along the Quehanna Highway in Karthaus, had the opportunity to examine a pair of impressive bulls shortly after the station opened at 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
The bulls were both harvested in Zone 7, with one having been shot Monday evening and the other early Tuesday morning.
According to information on the PGC website, Elk Hunt Zone 7 "contains public and private land, with the Elk, Moshannon and Sproul state forests and State Game Lands 321 making up the public land."
The bulls were a 9x9 harvested by Ken Kastely of Carroll, Ohio, and an 8x7 harvested by Paul Hoffnagle of Spring Grove. Elk watchers may be somewhat familiar with Hoffnagle's bull, as it sported the 3B collar.
Both Kastely and Hoffnagle remarked on Tuesday morning that they were surprised and excited when informed that they had been selected for a bull tag in this year's elk license drawing.
Kastely explained that he found out his name had been drawn after Jack Manack from Elk County Outfitters called his father, who then relayed the message.
"I thought he (Kastely's father) was playing a prank on me. I had been applying for this and was really looking forward to the day that they called me. He called me and I thought he was just trying to pull a fast one on me. I was, needless to say, very excited about (being selected for a bull tag)," Kastely said.
Manack was also the first to contact Hoffnagle, who said that he received a message on his answering machine indicating that he had been selected for a bull license. He recalled that his reaction was "disbelief at first, and then elation."
Neither Hoffnagle nor Kastely had previously been to the area, though both had been in the region. Hoffnagle remarked that he has hunted in Potter County with his father and friends, while Kastely has trout fished in the Oil City and Tionesta areas for several years.
Kastely was unable to venture to the area in advance to do any scouting due to his work schedule and explained that instead, he relied on Manack and his staff to scope out the bulls in his hunt zone. He arrived in the area the day before the season opened.
Hoffnagle, on the other hand, started making trips to the area in early October, and noted that he actually saw bull 3B on some of his first visits.
"We didn't see him after that, but yes, I did have him in mind but I also saw a lot of other nice bulls [on those trips as well]," Hoffnagle said.
Hoffnagle shot the bull around 5:30 p.m. Monday evening.
"We saw him in the morning and he actually winded us. In other words, we blew it. It didn't come together," Hoffnagle said. "He went into a certain bedding area and we figured we'd come back in the evening and try to set up on him again."
Hoffnagle and his guide, Bryan Hale of Elk County Outfitters, returned to the area around 4:30 p.m.
"[We] slipped into the bedding area and we were able to see some tines of his rack just sticking out above some scrub brush. So we set up - we just dropped down right there at [about] 150 yards and waited for about an hour until he actually stood up, and then we were in good position," Hoffnagle said.
Hoffnagle added that, with a lot of manpower, it took about 45 minutes to drag the bull out to where it could be placed on a vehicle. The bull had an estimated live weight of 822 pounds.