During its latest meeting Friday, the Missouri Conservation Commission approved the second annual elk-hunting season in Missouri. Additionally, the Commission approved the Missouri Department of Conservation’s recommendation to issue five permits for hunting bull elk during the 2021 season.

After numerous years of restoration efforts by the Conservation Department, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and several supporters from various locales, Missouri’s second elk season will include a nine-day archery portion from Oct. 16 to 24 and a nine-day firearm portion from Dec. 11 to 19. The five permits will be for hunting bull elk, and at least one will go to qualifying area landowners while the rest are for the general public.

According to Conservation Department Elk and Deer Biologist Aaron Hildreth, the hunting methods for both portions of elk season will be the same as those for deer season.

“The permits will allow for the harvest of one bull elk with at least one antler being 6 inches or greater in length. Successful hunters must Telecheck their harvested elk by 10 p.m. on the day of harvest, like for deer,” he explained.

Missouri hunters can obtain one of these permits by signing up for a random drawing. Application fees are $10, and those who win a permit must pay a $50 permit fee.

A minimum of 10% of the elk-hunting permits will be granted to approved landowners who have 20 or more contiguous acres of land in Carter, Reynolds or Shannon counties starting this year. All permits won can be used in these counties with the exception of a portion of Peck Ranch Conservation Area.

The Conservation Department will limit the amount of applications to once a year per person, with winners having a 10-year “sit out” period until the next time they may apply.

Those applying for an elk-hunting permit must be at least 11 years old on the first day of the hunt, and the winners of the permits are required to have their hunter-education certification or be exempt by age before purchasing their permit.

Any and all applications must be completed through a local vendor or online through the Conservation Department’s free MO Hunting app. The drawing will occur from May 1 to 31.

During the late 1800s, elk began disappearing from Missouri because of unregulated hunting. Fortunately, the Conservation Department successfully reintroduced around 100 elk into the wild in a secluded area of the Missouri Ozarks from 2011 to 2013 with the help of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and supporters from far and wide. The native Missouri species currently boasts a population of about 200 with a herd ratio of more than one bull elk to every four cow elk and a population growth rate over 10%, meeting the benchmarks for the allowance of a new elk-hunting season in the state.