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Hunting the 4 Subspecies of Elk in North America

ftd-elksubspecies
Flickr/Vince O'Sullivan

There were once a few more subspecies of elk here in North America, but now we are down to four.

Two of the subspecies that are now extinct were the Eastern and Merriam’s elk. Merriam’s were mainly found in the Southwest and in Mexico, while eastern were found east of the Mississippi river.

Even though these two subspecies are now extinct, we have a thriving population of elk currently throughout the United States, thanks in part to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Let’s take a look at some of the different subspecies that are currently around and where we, as hunters, have the opportunity to help with their conservation.

1. Roosevelt Elk

rooseveltelk
Flickr/Linda Tanner

Roosevelt elk are actually the largest subspecies of elk in body mass, but not in antler size. They are found in the Pacific Northwest and were transplanted from Alaska back in 1928.

These animals have a darker coat and this helps them adapt to their current habitat. They are also referred to as Olympic elk.

If you decide that this is an animal that you would like to chase come hunting season, one option is hunting them in the Oregon mountain ranges with your bow or rifle.

2. Tule Elk

tuleelk
Flickr/Robert Couse-Baker

Elk are very good at adapting to their surroundings, and this is no different for tule elk. Found in California, they have the smallest body size of elk subspecies

They’re often found in marshes filled with “tules,” which is where their name is derived.

These elk, since they are only found in California, can be hunted for a little over $1,500 dollars if you are lucky enough to draw a tag.

3. Manitoban Elk

Elk
Flickr/Thomas Quine

These animals in comparison with the other subspecies have a bigger body mass, but are still smaller than the Roosevelt elk. They are found in the Midwestern United States and Canadian Prairie Provinces.

Manitoban elk almost went extinct in the 1900s, but they have since recovered. If I was given the chance, I would definitely be heading to Canada to hunt these majestic animals.

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4. Rocky Mountain Elk

RockyMountainElk
Flickr/Vince O’Sullivan

Rocky Mountain elk are probably the most well-known subspecies of elk alive today. They are found in many areas and have even been transplanted to areas to start a herd of elk.

They have the largest antlers of all subspecies, and are found in the western United States, but have also been transplanted to other areas.

Colorado had their massive population introduced in 1913 from Wyoming. This subspecies can be hunted in a variety of states for $570 to $850.

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Hunting the 4 Subspecies of Elk in North America