In an area where students have historically been given the first day of buck hunting season off of school, it comes as no surprise that Elk Lake student Ethan Brown has earned the Triple Trophy award from the Pennsylvania State Game Commission.
The Triple Trophy is accomplished by harvesting an antlered whitetail, a black bear, and a wild turkey all in the same license year and from the same state. The Pennsylvania license year runs from July 1 to June 30 of the following year.
According to the Game Commission website, the Pennsylvania Triple Trophy was originally started in the 1960s by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and they ended the program in 1972. But Pennsylvania sportsmen still head out into the field to achieve this great accomplishment to this day. PA Triple Trophy Unlimited has been working to bring back the honor this achievement deserves by creating a set of record books and recognizing the sportsmen who accomplish this great feat.
As of Sunday night, only 33 other hunters had achieved this status.
Brown, who will be a senior next year, harvested the trio on a youth hunting license. Junior licenses are designated by age, and all hunters under 18 have a junior license. Hunters with a junior license can only hunt on youth hunting days.
Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Northeast Regional Information and Education Supervisor Bill Williams sent his congratulations to Brown, saying his accomplishment was a rare feat.
“Though we don’t have stats on hunter’s ages, I can say that a hunter with a junior licence getting this recognition is rare. First, the young hunter would have to harvest in each of the seasons, but also need someone to go with them,” he said.
“We certainly extend congratulations to Ethan for his successful hunts,” continued Williams. “There are hunters that go through their entire lives without getting this.”
Brown does the majority of his hunting with his step-father, A.J. Riscavage, and began hunting when he was about seven.
“Each year I learn new things about hunting and get better at it,” said Brown. “The most important lesson I’ve learned from my step dad is to have patience.”
To earn his Triple Trophy, Brown said, “My bear was 284 pounds field weight. I used a rifle and I was hunting with my step dad and his friend Bill. We were on Bill’s property in Mehoopany. The buck was a five point, I also shot it with a rifle. I was hunting with my step dad at Meshoppen Rod & Gun Club’s property where
my step dad is a member and it borders our property.”
He completed the hat trick with a turkey that he shot with a shotgun on his grandparents’ neighbor’s property in Sylvara, out with Riscavage.
Riscavage had talked to Brown about the award before this season, so the hunter was aware of it.
And though he never knew anyone who attained the recognition, it was always in the back of his mind.
“It’s exciting and I know a lot of hunters strive for this all their lives,” explained Brown. “It’s not easy to get.”
Brown said his buck wasn’t as big as some he has shot, or as unique, but he was glad to get one. He also revealed that to him, every opening day is always very exciting.
As for the bear, this was the first one he had harvested. Bear hunting, he said, is similar to deer hunting as they both happen from tree stands.
When asked if it was scary, to see a bear in the woods, Brown said, “Not when I have a gun in my hand.”
His favorite hunt is turkeys though.
“My favorite part of turkey hunting is when the gobblers respond to a call,” he admitted.
Brown cleans and cuts his own kills, and will have the three animals taxidermied.
He said, “We had a 3/4 body mount of the bear and skull mount. We got a European mount for the buck, and a chest mount for the turkey. All three are being done by Tom Potts Taxidermy.”
“Each mount will have a small matching plaque on it showing the year I harvested it so I will always remember those were my Triple Trophy mounts,” he said proudly.
While Brown also looks forward to seeing his harvests on the wall, he also enjoys helping to fill the family’s freezer.
“Wild game (tastes) good marinated. A friend of mine also used my bear meat to make sausage, which was good,” he added.
He shares his hunting passion with his stepfather, and even though they haven’t traveled out of the state for a hunt yet, they would like to some day.
Brown is an accomplished bow hunter as well.
Since 2018, he has placed no lower than second in any given NASP tournament, either local or state. In 2020, he started attending larger competitions with his target bow, and right before COVID-19 shutdowns, took first place at a competition at Weaver’s Archery in Millersburg and won $350.
“I am missing NASP tournaments and also competitions I planned on attending with my competition bow,” he explained in regards to the coronavirus shutdowns. “NASP States wasn’t during hunting season, but I had also qualified to attend Nationals in Kentucky, and that would have been during turkey season.”
There are no more hunts this season for Brown, but he intends on continuing his shooting.
“All competitions I had planned on attending have been canceled. Competitions make me better at archery hunting,” he said. “But I practice mostly at home. I have an indoor range set up (for archery) in our basement, and I also take my targets outside and shoot in the yard.”
He continued, “I just hope things open and I can attend competitions next season.”
As for the Triple Trophy, “I know it could be a once in a lifetime chance, and getting it with a junior license is the best part.”