Wisconsin Hunter Takes Down State’s First Bow-Killed Elk in at Least 140 Years

by Emily Morgan
Photo by: Jaroslav Sugarek

An archer has officially taken Wisconsin’s first bow-killed elk in at least 140 years. 

Per reports, Dan Evenson of Cambridge, Wisconsin shot the 6-by-7 bull in the Clam Lake area. He made the amazing shot on Oct. 15 in the Clam Lake area after drawing one of only three elk tags awarded in a state lottery. The lottery garnered more than 25,000 applications.

As an avid bowhunter who has harvested more than 50 big game animals, Evenson has now hunted 25 of the 29 big game species that make up the Pope and Young Club’s Super Slam. In addition, he told news outlets he’s never shot an animal with a rifle. He discovered he’d drawn the lucky elk tag while bear hunting in Alaska.

The Rocky Mountain Elk population once thrived in the midwestern state but vanished by the 1880s due to unrestricted hunting and habitat loss. 

In 1995, state officials began a restoration plan, releasing 25 Michigan elk in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.  The project’s second phase moved 31 Kentucky elk in the state’s Flambeau River State Forest in Sawyer County in 2017 and another 48 Kentucky elk in the same area two years later.

In 2018, Wisconsin began allowing an annual bull-only elk hunt. As a result, 14 bulls were harvested in the first three seasons. 

Evenson started scouting for his hunt in late summer, making several treks to the area to gather information. He also continued practicing with his 8-pin compound bow. 

While he typically aims for targets of 100 yards, he says most of his hunting shots over the years have been from 20 to 25 yards. “There’s an ethical limit for shooting an arrow and it’s different for everybody,” Evenson said. “It’s important to learn what that is and stick to it when you’re hunting.” 

Wisconsin archer takes down elk: ‘I’m feeling very fortunate, very humbled’

Evenson and his friends arrived in the area a couple of days before the opener to finish his scouting. Then, on Oct. 13, he located a herd of 30 elk which he found the next day nearly a mile away. On opening day, Oct. 15, opening day, he found the herd again in the morning and afternoon. He could then stalk into range during the afternoon hunt and wait for the elk to go past him at 60 yards. 

His broadside shot on the big bull was successful, and he and his friends found the bull, which scored 283 7/8, only 100 yards away. “To have it all come together was pretty sweet,” Evenson said after the hunt. “I’m feeling very fortunate, very humbled. What an experience, and right here in Wisconsin.” 

As of July 2021, the state’s two elk herds were thought to hold about 445 animals, with a long-term management goal of 1,400.