ARMSTRONG COUNTY, Pa. — An Armstrong County man broke the state record for the largest elk taken during archery season.
“I thought I was going to get a big one, but I didn’t think I’d get a state record,” said Dave Kammerdiener.
Dave Kammerdiener started hunting at 12 years old.
“First day of buck,” said Dave Kammerdiener. “7 o’clock in the morning, I shot my first buck, and I thought boy this is easy. Little did I know years afterwards, it wasn’t quite as easy.”
Kammerdiener makes it look easy. The waiting just might be the hardest part. Each year, for 21 years, Kammerdiener entered Pennsylvania’s annual lottery for an elk tag. More than 75,000 applied for 178 elk licenses. The Pennsylvania Game Commission only issued 14 bull tags for the 2022 archery season.
“I drew a bull tag, and I’m like you’re kidding me,” said Kammerdiener. “It was only three weeks away until I got ready to go. I had to start practicing.”
They say practice makes perfect. In Kammerdiener’s case, he practiced. He practiced three times a day for an hour each time leading up to the hunt. But in the end, he says it always comes down to timing and luck.
“One shot was all it took,” said Kammerdiener.
Kammerdiener and his friend Bud Slagle traveled from Templeton in Armstrong County to the Quehanna Wild Area in Clearfield County. They immediately started scouting with Trophy Rack Lodge Guide Matt Lutz.
“Seen this bull on camera, and my guide said he finally showed back up,” said Kammerdiener. “My guide has been trying to get this thing for a couple years.”
They hiked 6-10 miles a day and spotted several elk along the way.
“They had seen a nice bull there,” said Kammerdiener. “A 6 x 6. I was ready to shoot anything.”
Then on September 15th on Dave’s 66th birthday, with about an hour left to let the arrow fly, Kammerdiener and his guide spotted the massive sought-after elk.
“My guide said holy cow,” said Kammerdiener. “He’s huge. I started to shake a little bit. I went up. Up. Back down and moved back a little bit. My guide kept telling me shoot. Finally let it rip and it sounded like it hit a 5-gallon bucket.”
As luck would have it, with only a couple minutes left, he got it from about 45 yards out. Just like he had been practicing.
“This is the second bull I shot on my birthday,” said Kammerdiener.
They went back to the lodge to regroup and brought a horse with them when they returned to the woods for help.
“All I seen was them horns stick up, and I’m like holy cow,” said Kammerdiener. “And then I get down, and then I’m like oh my god I thought. I’ve never seen nothing that big. That thing weighs 41 pounds.”
Just the horns weigh 41 pounds. They believe this elk was more than 850 pounds and officially a new state record.
“I thought I had a chance of getting a nice one,” said Kammerdiener. “I never dreamed I was going to get anything like this. My wife said no more. I gotta build a room.”
A Boone and Crockett scorer measured the bull’s rack on December 12, 2022. It was a 11×7 and scored 446 and 0/8 inches (462 and 2/8 gross). It broke the state archery record and is the second largest bull ever taken by a hunter with any weapon in Pennsylvania. It’s the 7th largest elk ever taken in the world and will be listed in the Boone and Crockett record book.
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