Missouri Hunter Makes History with Archery Elk Harvest

by Jon D. B.

The first elk by archery methods in Missouri’s modern elk hunting history has officially been harvested and recorded by Chris Irick.

Way to go, Chris! The Pleasant Hope, Missouri hunter is now the first in his state’s recorded history to harvest an elk by archery. How’s that for an Outsider’s place in history?

“FIRST ELK BY ARCHERY: Chris Irick of Pleasant Hope harvested the first elk by archery methods in Missouri’s modern elk hunting history. Chris took the 6-by-6 bull in Shannon County late in the evening on Oct. 18 and found it early in the morning on the 19,” begins the Missouri Dept. of Conservation in their statement.

“In an ironic twist, a bear hunter found the bull before Chris did, and promptly reported it to local conservation agents. Conservation Agent Logan Brawley responded. As he drove up, he heard Chris yelling, but could not immediately see him,” the dept. continues.

“As it turned out, Chris had climbed up about 16 feet in a tree over the bull, making his best effort for cell service to get the bull called in to Telecheck!” they cite of the historic harvest. “The meat was still good with cool overnight temperatures. Congratulations Chris!”

Over on Facebook, fellow Missourian Irene Hoffman comments: “Yes congratulations and that’s one story you could pass on to your children and/or grandkids. And thanks to the bear hunter for calling MDC for you.”

To this and the original story, however, Chris Irick himself replies with: “I found it myself before I knew the bear hunter had found it.”

“That’s a nice bull! Well done! Great job on the elk restoration, Missouri Department of Conservation!” adds John Creutz, highlighting a crucial part of this tale.

Missouri’s Elk Conservation Corrects Mistakes of the Past

As the Dept. of Conservation’s post states, Irick was still able to make full use of his elk harvest. This would not be possible without the dept.’s own tireless dedication to rebuilding a population of these magnificent cervids in the state.

Historically, elk ranged from Southern California, east to New York and south to South Carolina. Missouri was once their home. In fact, Lewis and Clark reported elk in Missouri on their trip west in 1804, the dept. states in their information pamphlet on the species.

Moreover, “Explorer Henry Schoolcraft referenced elk when writing of his journey through the Missouri Ozarks in 1818–1819,” they cite.

By the mid-1880s, however, market hunting would erase every single trace of the native species from Missouri. In less than 80 years, the entire species would disappear from the whole of the state’s lands.

It wouldn’t be until 2011 that the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) would move to correct this. That year, MDC would reintroduce a group of elk to Peck Ranch Conservation Area in southern Missouri.

In the years since, more elk have been brought in from other states for genetic diversity. Today, MDC cites that their elk numbers “have grown to more than 200 with an annual herd growth rate of over 10 percent and a herd ratio of more than one bull elk for every four cow elk – three key biological benchmarks that needed to be met prior to the establishment of an elk-hunting season in Missouri.”