If you’re interested in hunting elk with your CVA muzzleloader rifle this fall, now’s the time to learn all you can about states that offer elk hunting. First we have to understand some of the history of America’s elk herds. In the early 1900s, hunters recognized the trends of disappearing wildlife and stepped forward to reverse them. Hunters pushed for hunting regulations and established conservation groups to protect wildlife habitat. Once the new laws protected the elk, the elk began to build-up respectable-sized herds, approaching 100,000 animals each, with Colorado’s elk population being perhaps the largest.
Pushed back from the plains by ranchers and farmers, the elk has become a mountain animal in the West. During the winter season, the elk come down for food to the foothills, where they find grass overgrazed by domestic sheep and trees over-browsed by deer. Food shortages during the winter have caused many thousands of elk to starve. Finally, local ranchers began hauling hay to feed the elk through the worst months, thereby setting the winter-feeding precedent. Soon the people of Jackson Hole asked the State of Wyoming to send emergency rations of hay for the elk, and the State raised money for the hay. But the elk still needed more feed. As the story of the starving elk spread across the country, the federal government began contributing to the elk rations. Then, in 1912, the government established the National Elk Refuge on the broad meadows where the elk traditionally had wintered on the north edge of Jackson Hole.
In 1984, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) was founded by four hunters, to, “guarantee a wild future for America’s grandest game animal.” The organization has helped restore elk populations to Wisconsin, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia and has conserved or enhanced habitat over 5.8-million acres. Today there are 1-million elk in North America – roughly 10% of the elk population that existed before the European settlement of North America. Elk are found in the U.S. in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming and in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Ontario, Saskatchewan and the Yukon Territory.
Today, hunters continue to sustain wildlife conservation, and hunting-license fees and special taxes on hunting equipment fund state game and non-game management programs of elk. Most states have short blackpowder seasons in September or October for elk or permit muzzleloader hunting during rifle season. Be sure to check the local regulations for the region you will be hunting, and apply for a permit before you go..
For more information about elk and elk ranges, visit http://www.rmef.org/AllAboutElk/ElkRange/.
The State of Kentucky’s Restored Elk Populations After Only 17 Years of Growth Now Being Shared with Other States
Now that Kentucky’s elk population has been successfully restored, the state is sharing its wealth. While Wisconsin is still rewriting its elk-management plan and hoping to receive elk from Kentucky soon, elk restoration is already underway in southwestern Virginia with support from Kentucky. On Friday, May 18, 2012, 11 elk from Kentucky were transferred to a 5-acre holding pen in Buchanan County, Virginia. The elk will acclimate to their surroundings in the pen before being released into the wild. These elk were just the first of 75 that will be brought to the county during the next 3 years. The RMEF paid for nearly all of the $300,000 that was needed for materials and supplies to make the project possible. Just 17-years ago, Kentucky received 1,500 elk from six western states and began its successful restoration program. In addition to “planted” elk, Kentucky’s herds are expanding to neighboring Virginia, Tennessee and Missouri.
Too, Kentucky is willing to participate and capture and put elk in holding and testing corrals paid for by RMEF to be used by Wisconsin. The elk-management plan currently being rewritten has to be reviewed by sportsmen and approved by Wisconsin’s Natural Resources Board. If approved, Wisconsin could begin receiving elk from Kentucky by 2014 to replenish its herd at Clam Lake and establish a new herd in Jackson County. Kentucky’s counterpart to Wisconsin’s Natural Resources Board already has approved the plan. If approved, Wisconsin could get as many as 50 Kentucky elk per year over the next several years.