In 2014, Arkansas recorded the highest number of elk ever harvested.
Arkansas is not traditionally known as a major elk-hunting destination. Rocky Mountain elk roamed the state until about 1840, when they were declared extinct. In the early 1930s, the USDA introduced a small number of elk to Arkansas. The elk herd increased to an estimated 200 animals over the next 20 years, but then they disappeared. Beginning in 1981 and continuing for a four-year period, elk were introduced onto public and private land in Arkansas. A local census recently estimated herd numbers at more than 450 animals.
Since 1992, the Akansas Game and Fish Commission, in cooperation with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, has performed extensive habitat improvement in wildlife management areas. Year-round use of the areas by elk herds has increased significantly, and more habitat work is planned.
The commission established the modern-day Arkansas elk hunt in 1998. Every year, they select hunters at random for a limited number of public land elk permits. Private land permits are also available, based on a quota system. Hunters applying for private land permits must have written landowner permission to qualify for an either-sex elk permit.
The commission’s elk program coordinator, Wes Wright, reported hunters harvested a record 52 elk in 2014, compared to the previous record of 44 harvested in 2012. He also said;
Our elk appear to be doing very well, it was a 30 percent increase in the overall harvest numbers from the 2013 hunting season.
During the 2014 Arkansas elk hunting season, hunters harvested 18 bulls and 34 antlerless elk. Of those harvested elk, hunters took 22 on public lands and 30 on private lands.