Pennsylvania Triple Trophy Unlimited recognizes hunter achievements
By arrowing a wild turkey with his compound bow last fall, Keith Fessler Sr. accomplished something few Pennsylvania hunters can say they’ve ever done. Shooting a black bear on the opening day of the firearms bear season was equally rare.
But when he dropped a mature buck during the statewide firearms white-tailed deer season, Fessler found himself in an extremely unique class of hunters. He had just earned his Pennsylvania Triple Trophy.
“As an avid hunter since childhood, attaining the Pa. Triple Trophy is like winning the Super Bowl,” he said. “It’s the result of hard work, perseverance, and a willingness to never give up.”
According to James Wolfgang, founder of Pennsylvania Triple Trophy Unlimited – an organization dedicated to recognizing the men, women and youth of Pennsylvania by honoring their achievements in the field – attaining the triple trophy represents the epitome of hunting success.
“The Pennsylvania Triple Trophy was a tradition the Pennsylvania Sportsman took great pride in accomplishing, even after the state Game Commission stopped recognizing the award,” Wolfgang said.
The agency used to officially recognize the Pennsylvania Triple Trophy whenever a hunter harvested a white-tailed buck, a black bear and a fall or spring wild turkey from Pennsylvania in the same licensed hunting season. The agency ended the awards program decades ago, but Wolfgang recently decided to bring it back.
“During my research, I found the accomplishment listed in obituaries and on job resumes,” Wolfgang explained. “I also found the true meaning of the Triple Trophy was being lost. There were newspaper articles that described the Triple Trophy as a spring bird, antlered whitetail, and bear all in the same calendar year; however, it actually requires they be harvested in the same license year.”
“So the main reason to bring this program back to life again was to reestablish the true meaning and to bring back the honor the Triple Trophy deserves for future and past sportsmen.
“Overall, I’ve had about 60 triple trophies reported to me,” Wolfgang said. “Some hunters completed the Pennsylvania Grand Slam (bear, buck, spring and fall turkey), and there was even one Royal Slam (triple trophy plus a Pennsylvania elk).
“We’re currently keeping records on our website and have been sending certificates out to recipients. Once we start picking up more sponsors, we will be able to accomplish more, such as holding awards banquets,” he said.
Successful hunters may report their harvests at http://www.patripletrophy.com and keep up to date with all the latest achievements on the PA Triple Trophy Unlimited Facebook page. With this year’s hunting seasons rapidly approaching, a few lucky sportsmen will surely be joining the ranks of Pennsylvania Triple Trophy hunters.