Outdoor Journal: Elk hunting in Missouri

It’s not quite a reality but if the plan approved by the Conservation Commission at their June meeting stays on track, Missourians could be placing their name in a drawing for the first ever Elk Season in Missouri in 2020.

According to MDC Elk Biologist Aaron Hildreth who presented the elk-hunting plan to the Conservation Commission MDC will begin offering a limited season for hunting elk once the herd of about 175 animals reaches a minimum of 200 with an annual herd growth rate of at least 10 percent and a herd ratio of at least four cow elk for every bull elk.

That could occur as early as this fall. If the population numbers are below the target levels, the Commission may choose to wait another  year. A decision will be made in January.

If a hunting season is established for 2020, the frame work would be limited to Missouri residents at least 11 years of age who have their hunter-education certification or are exempt from hunter education by age (born before Jan. 1, 1967). Hunting permits would be assigned through a random lottery of all applicants. MDC will require a $10 application fee to be eligible for the limited hunt with a $50 permit fee for those selected through the lottery. MDC will limit the random lottery to one application per-person, per-year with a 10-year “sit-out” period for those drawn for a permit before they may apply again.

The hunting zone will be limited to Carter, Reynolds, and Shannon counties, but will exclude the special refuge portion of Peck Ranch Conservation Area where elk were initially reintroduced.

“Permits issued each year will be valid for a nine-day archery season beginning the third Saturday in October and a nine-day firearms season beginning the second Saturday in December,” Hildreth explained.

He added that the timing of the seasons was designed to avoid the peak of elk breeding during late September and early October and to avoid the elk season coinciding with portions of the firearms deer season.

“The allowed hunting methods for each season will be the same as for deer hunting,” Hildreth said. “The permits will allow for the harvest of one bull elk with at least one antler being greater than six inches in length. Successful hunters must Telecheck their harvested elk, like for deer.”

We’ll find out in a few months.

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