As Missouri’s Elk Herd Continues To Grow, MDC Outlines Plans For First Elk Hunts In Fall Of 2020

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Missouri’s elk herd is on track to be large enough to sustain the first elk hunt in the state in more than a century.

During a webcast on Wednesday, Missouri Department of Conservation officials outlined how that first hunt will work, pending final approval of elk hunting rules by the conservation commission.

Top points of MDC webcast:

  • 5-10 permits will likely be available — depending on herd size — for that first hunt, which will be open only to Missouri residents;
  • There will be a $10 application fee to seek a permit through a random lottery; if you’re lucky enough to get a permit, the cost will be $50;
  • A hunter needs to be 11 or older and be hunter education certified, unless born before Jan. 1, 1967;
  • At least one of those permits will be dedicated to one of the 350 qualifying landowner properties surrounding MDC’s elk restoration area in Carter, Shannon and Reynolds counties;
  • There is one permit application per person per year; anyone who gets a permit must wait 10 years before applying again;
  • The first elk season will be scheduled in two parts: Archery — nine days beginning the third Saturday in October; Firearms — nine days beginning the second Saturday in December.

MDC elk specialist Aaron Hildreth said the elk that were reintroduced to Missouri in 2011 have shown fairly steady growth and now number about 175 animals. The herd should be close to 200 animals by the fall of 2020, the minimum needed before MDC would consider a hunt.

The herd also has to show 10 percent annual growth and be composed of at least one bull elk for every four cow elk.

Hildreth indicated there are no minimum rifle caliber requirements, though MDC will visit with each permit holder before they embark on their hunt. 

He noted that the average white-tailed buck deer weighs 200 to 250 pounds, while a mature bull elk will weigh three to four times that, a size difference hunters would need to consider when choosing their hunting gear.

MDC hopes to eventually grow the herd to 400 to 500 elk. As the herd gets bigger, more hunting permits will likely become available. Hildreth said MDC eventually will offer permits for female elk. Until then, only bull elk with an antler at least 6 inches tall will be eligible to be killed by hunters.

Hildreth said elk already have begun to move beyond the Peck Ranch Conservation Area, where they were first released after being imported from Kentucky.

Courtesy: Springfield News Leader