The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recently announced that the five Wisconsin hunters filled their tags during the state’s third managed elk season. The 2020 season makes it 25 years since the reintroduction and management of elk began in Wisconsin.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has certainly made the 2020 season a little more difficult than in the past. In order to stay safe, the group of five state-licensed hunters were able to bond using online chats and social media. It was there they had discussions about their plans for the hunt, in addition to encouraging each other for the once-in-a-lifetime experience. And in the end, they were successful.
“This wasn’t a typical season for this year’s hunters, so they got creative,” said Josh Spiegel, DNR Wildlife Biologist. “Each of the five hunters had unique experiences, but all ended the same with the harvest of a beautiful Wisconsin bull elk.”
First Bull Harvested at Southern Lobe of Clam Lake Elk Range
Of the many different highlights during the 2020 hunt, perhaps one of the best came when the first-ever elk was harvested in the Clam Lake Elk Range’s southern lobe. The area is 502 square miles. To top it off, one of the five hunters was able to harvest a bull, making it their first game animal.
“Starting your hunting career by harvesting a bull elk on an unbelieve tag is a pretty incredible experience,” Spiegel said. “Not only were all the hunters rewarded for their hard work, but very grateful for their experience too.”
The Clam Lake Elk Range extends its reach into portions of Ashland, Bayfield, Price, Rusk, and Sawyer counties in Wisconsin, covering a total of 1,620 square miles.
The original herd began when 25 Michigan elk, saw their release in 1995. Further, 26 Wisconsin elk saw release into the expanded range in 2014 and 2015 using an assisted dispersal process. And finally, 92 Kentucky translocated elk were released in 2017 and 2019 on the Flambeau River State Forest. In all, the Clam Lake Elk Range had a 2020 population estimate of roughly 300.
Hunter Application and Selection Process
The Wisconsin DNR selected four hunters at random from a pool of about 28,000 applicants following a three-month application period. The fifth state-issued tag went to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF). They awarded it through a fundraising raffle. The RMEF chose a winner from almost 1,600 applicants.
For each $10 application fee, $7 goes toward management, habitat, and research in Wisconsin. All of the RMEF raffle proceeds are going specifically for management in Wisconsin. The 2021 application period is on schedule to take place from March 1 through May 31.
For more information regarding elk in Wisconsin, visit the DNR elk webpage here.