Pennsylvania Game News - February 2015 - 3
A Tale of Two Teens
By Joe Kosack
INCE Pennsylvania's elk hunt
resumed in 2001, thousands of
us have been entering faithfully
the Game Commission's annual elk
drawing and awaiting our chances to
hunt elk in the Alleghenies. But not
everyone waits that long.
Back in 2001, George Oko, 15, of
Bear Creek, and Travis Raab, 14, of
Hammondsport N.Y., were still years
away from entering kindergarten, let
alone the elk drawing. But on the
opening day of Pennsylvania's 2014 elk
season, they were in the elk country
living the dream.
Travis was the youngest hunter in
the field of 108 selected to participate
last year's hunt; George was the oldest of three 15-year-olds drawn. Both
Travis and George had drawn bull tags.
They recognized their good fortune,
anxiously awaited their hunts and
knew their fathers had done all in their
power to make their hunts successful.
But these fathers and their sons would
have to adapt to some sudden changes
along the way if the teens were going
to take bulls.
George Oko Sr. admitted his son was
lucky to even be on the hunt. He put in
for the drawing for his son and himself
the evening of the last day entries were
accepted. He'd forgotten about 2014's
earlier entry period for the drawing. A
newspaper article reminded him as he
got ready for work.
"Had I not seen that paper, we
wouldn't have been here," George Sr.
said as he reminisced about that morning. "A couple of goofy, lucky things
fell into place."
But even after George was drawn for
the elk hunt, and a message was left on
the family phone, he still wasn't sure if
he was going elk hunting.
"They called the house and left a
message that said, 'George got pulled
for a tag,'" George Jr. recalled. "We
didn't know which one. Was it Dad
or me? So we had to call and find out
which George it was."
Travis was away from home when
the elk drawing occurred. So when a
voicemail was left on the home phone
explaining his good fortune, he didn't
receive it immediately. Two days later,
the message made an already special
day even more heartwarming.
"I found out on my birthday," Travis
explained. "It was only my third year
in the drawing."
Their countdown to the elk opener
seemed to take forever. But eventually
they would arrive in elk country just
before the opener. Working with their
guides, they learned their hunt plans
and got more familiar with the lay of
the land. They were ready for the challenge awaiting them.
Travis' opening morning got off to a
great start - he saw the bull he wanted
as dawn crept into the State Game
Lands 311 field he was staking out.
Then, the unexpected happened.
"When we got there, and we were
setting up to get a shot at the bull, four