Burns: Disabled veterans should get elk hunting license lottery

Bill proposes making two permits per year available

EBENSBURG, May 6 – Crediting a disabled veteran constituent who loves to hunt with spurring the idea, state Rep. Frank Burns has introduced legislation to set aside two elk licenses per year in a new lottery open to 100% disabled veterans.

Burns, D-Cambria, crafted H.B.937 in response to contact from Timothy Seymore of Cresson, who entered Pennsylvania’s highly competitive elk hunting license drawing 12 straight years but was never selected.

After discovering that the Game Commission is making 187 elk licenses available this year through its existing lottery process, Burns decided to propose setting aside two – one antlered, one antlerless – in an additional lottery open only to 100%, service-connected disabled veterans.

“My bill would earmark one bull and one cow elk tag for this dedicated drawing – and there would be no cost for the tags to the veterans selected,” said Burns, a senior member of the House Veterans Affairs & Emergency Management Committee. “With the extremely competitive nature of the existing drawings, setting aside two elk tags per year for these veterans gives them improved odds to do something they love.”

Seymore, who is also a retired state Department of Corrections lieutenant, said he was surprised to see such a thorough, curative response to his initial email to Burns.

“I never expected this result. I thought maybe (it would be), ‘I will look into it for you,’” Seymore said, invoking a comparison to former U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha. “There has only been one PA representative I ever thought did anything for veterans and that was the late Mr. Murtha. Now there is someone I think is respectfully as good and that is Representative Frank Burns.”

Burns said while he is flattered at comparisons to Murtha, whom he considers a role model when it comes to being a moderate who works across the aisle to get things done, he puts serious effort into solving problems legislatively whenever that can be done.

“Sometimes, what someone asks for isn’t feasible or even legal, or falls under jurisdiction of another elected officeholder,” Burns said. “In this case, there was something I could do, and that was build upon the free annual hunting license Pennsylvania already provides to disabled veterans, by seeking to create this new elk license lottery.”

For 2021, three license lotteries are already scheduled: one for the general season Nov. 1-6 (32 antlered, 77 antlerless); a second for archery (select zones) Sept. 11-25 (14 antlered, 15 antlerless); and a third for the late season Jan. 1-8 (10 antlered, 39 antlerless).

Burns said his proposed fourth lottery is intended for the general season, with the Game Commission having responsibility to spell everything out consistent with its regulations.