DNR reports successful 2023 elk hunting season

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is celebrating a successful elk hunting season. The state’s sixth elk hunting season opened Oct. 14 and closed Nov. 12, as a result of all four state licensed hunters filling their harvest authorizations.

The four hunters who participated in this year’s hunt were selected at random from a pool of 21,312 Wisconsin resident applicants. One hunter successfully harvested a bull elk in the first weekend of the season. The second was harvested during the first week. The third elk was harvested at the end of October, about two weeks before the end of the first open period. The final harvest occurred on the last day of the first hunting period.

Wisconsin’s annual elk hunt takes place in the Clam Lake Elk Range, home of Wisconsin’s longest tenured elk population since reintroduction (1995). The DNR also released elk in the Clam Lake region in 2017 and 2019. In 2023, the estimated population of the Clam Lake elk herd is 355 elk. Bulls have been harvested across this range each year since the hunt started in 2018.

Elk were also reintroduced in Jackson County in 2015 and 2016 to form the Black River Falls herd. The Black River Falls herd is estimated at 160 individuals in 2023, bringing the statewide total to approximately 515 elk. This year’s statewide estimate is a 10% increase from the prior year, matching the DNR’s population growth target for the elk herds.

The 2024 elk hunt application period for Wisconsin residents is expected to open March 1 and run through May 31. For information on elk in Wisconsin, visit the DNR’s Elk webpage at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/elk.