Elk NetworkWisconsin Celebrates Successful 2023 Elk Hunting Season

General | November 21, 2023

Below is a news release from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation assisted with the successful restoration of wild elk to their historic Wisconsin range. Since 1990, RMEF and its partners completed 611 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Wisconsin with a combined value of more than $12.1 million. These projects conserved or enhanced 9,922 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 2,000 acres.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is celebrating a successful elk hunting season. The state’s sixth elk hunting season opened Saturday, Oct. 14 and closed Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, 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.

“It’s exciting that we have the opportunity in Wisconsin to pursue elk in our home state,” said Josh Spiegel, DNR Wildlife Biologist. “Every hunter’s experience is unique each year, and this year’s hunters definitely lived up to that standard.”

Congrats to all our elk hunters this season.

Elk Status and Management

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 supplementally 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 our population growth target for the elk herds.

Hunters Can Apply for the 2024 Elk Hunting Season in March

The DNR’s elk management is driven by hunter applications.

“I want to thank the hunters who applied for elk applications this year, because $7 of each application goes towards our elk habitat management, research, population monitoring and more. We have an elk season each year because of hunter support,” said Spiegel.

The 2024 elk hunt application period for Wisconsin residents is expected to open March 1 and run through May 31, 2024. For more information on elk in Wisconsin, visit the DNR’s Elk webpage.

(Photo credit: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)