MADISON — The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds hunters that the application period for the 2021 elk hunt is open through May 31 for the chance to draw a hunt of a lifetime.
Following several successful Wisconsin elk hunts, the DNR is planning the state’s fourth elk hunt this fall. Wisconsin's northern herd elk population, located around Clam Lake, rose to 300 animals in 2020. The DNR anticipates growth in the herd again this year.
"The elk have fared well in the north over the past year," said Josh Spiegel, DNR wildlife biologist in Sawyer County. "Currently, we've had mild winters back-to-back and animal body conditions look healthy. We continue to see a strong breeding class of cows and significant recruitment of younger animals into the population."
Once widespread across North America, elk were eliminated from Wisconsin in the 1880s. With the support of many partners and the backing of Wisconsin residents, the herd is back. Elk hunting season is open Oct. 16 to Nov. 14 and Dec. 9 to 17. Successful applicants can hunt during either period. Only Wisconsin residents are eligible to receive an elk tag.
Residents can purchase elk license applications online through Go Wild (gowild.wi.gov) or by visiting a license agent. The application fee is $10.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation also will raffle one license. Raffle tickets are also $10 each, and there is no limit on the number of raffle tickets an individual may purchase.
The cost of an elk hunting license for the winners of the license drawing is $49.
Last year, five once-in-a-lifetime bull elk tags were issued to state hunters and an equal number allocated to the Ojibwe tribes, per treaty rights. The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board is scheduled to approve the 2021 elk harvest quota in May. Winning hunters will be notified in early June. Before obtaining an elk hunting license, all winners must participate in a Wisconsin elk hunter education program in early September. The class will cover regulations, hunting techniques and more.
The 2021 hunting season is expected to occur only within the northern elk management zone. While the state's central elk herd has grown steadily since reintroduction in 2015, it is not expected to be included in any 2021 hunts.
“We want hunters to have a great experience and be successful. With approximately 70% of the elk range on public land and open to hunting, finding a place to hunt will not be a problem for elk hunters,” said Spiegel. “Despite the relative remoteness of the area, there are informational centers, campgrounds and hotels. Everything you need is within easy reach."
For each application, $7 goes to elk management and research in Wisconsin. During the first three hunting seasons, applicants generated over $600,000. These funds are already being used to enhance elk habitat, which benefits the elk herd and many other wildlife species that call the Northwoods home. Funding also contributes to ongoing elk research and monitoring.
For more information on the elk hunt, visit the DNR’s elk webpage.