HomeOutdoorsNewsAll Six Hunters Bag Magnificent Bulls During Virginia’s Inaugural Elk Hunt

All Six Hunters Bag Magnificent Bulls During Virginia’s Inaugural Elk Hunt

by Amy Myers
Photo by: Greg Vaughn /VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

This past October, six hunters made Virginia history by participating in the state’s very first elk hunt. All of the avid hunters were able to bag giant bulls during the inaugural event and help raise money for conservation in the process. It was a success on every front.

The hunt took place at the designated Elk Management Zone (EMZ) in Buchanan, Dickenson, and Wise counties. The project was the result of collaboration between Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) staff and 20 local landowners as well as volunteers from Southwest Virginia Sportsmen, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) and DWR’s Volunteer Program. All of the hard work paid off as each hunter walked away with incredible mounts and unforgettable experiences.

Each one of the harvested bulls was an incredible specimen and was a testament to Virginia’s growing and thriving population. The largest bull was an 8×9 that had a raw score of 400 inches. Once the elk complete the 60-day drying period, officials will measure it once again in order to find the official Boone & Crockett score.

“Every hunter harvested a mature bull elk ranging from 691 to 852 pounds live weight,” the DWR reported. “By evaluation of the elk’s teeth, we confirmed every bull was a minimum of 3.5 years of age and exact ages will be determined via lab work. One bull was sporting a small metal ear tag that was not visible to the hunter until he approached his harvest. By tracking the bull’s history, we determined him to be 11.5 years old, which is a very old bull!”

DWR Says Elk Population Is Stable Enough For Annual Harvest

Virginia certainly doesn’t have an overabundance of elk within its borders, but the current numbers look promising to the DWR for future seasons. In fact, according to the department’s post, this harvest may very well become a yearly occurrence.

“The hunt was not for population control, as our elk population still has plenty of room to grow,” the department shared. “But we have reached a point where the elk population is abundant enough that harvesting a few bulls on an annual basis will not inhibit population growth.”

And the success of the event exceeds more than just establishing a new state tradition on the 10-year anniversary of elk restoration in the Commonwealth. The DWR described the event as a win for sportsmen just as much as the game animal.

Not only did they provide new opportunities for local and out-of-state hunters, but they also raised a fair amount of money through the lottery this past February and March and the following raffle. Overall, their efforts raised over $600,000 for elk conservation in Virginia.

“The elk hunt was a blast all around and we are already looking forward to next year’s hunt,” the DWR exclaimed.

Officials will release information regarding the 2023 lottery in January.