Elk Hunting Spots

Elk Hunting Spots: 5 Lesser-Known States

Elk hunting spots aren't just confined to the vast wilderness areas of the high country.

Most big game hunters are familiar with the elk hunting superstar states like Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico.

However, there may be some states that haven't made it onto the mainstream radar screen. These states don't get a lot of love on TV or around the proverbial wapiti water cooler. They may not be known for huge trophy bull elk or necessarily large elk populations, but you should know about them!

It may seem out-of-place to those of us used to elk habitat dominated by coniferous national forests, or hearing bugles rip through the quaking aspen. But elk's historical range in North America extended through the Heartland, to the East, and even into southern states.

Check out these five lesser-known elk hunting hot spots.


Hunting Elk

After reintroducing elk in 1997, Kentucky has become an intriguing elk hunting spot since the state opened to elk hunting in 2001. Success rates are typically high. For instance, rifle hunters during the 2017-2018 season had a success rate of 64% on bull elk hunts. Archery bull elk hunters had 48% success during the same season.

The state conducts draw-only elk tags for residents and non-residents. The bad news is it could take a while to draw. With competitive odds, resident archery antlerless hunters stand the best chance. Read about the other four special elk permit opportunities here.



In 2018, Michigan passed the centennial milestone of elk being reestablished in the state. Offering just 100 to 200 permits a year, resident elk hunters can draw for "any elk" or antlerless permits.

Unfortunately, Michigan isn't a good non-resident elk hunting spot since they can't apply for these elk hunts.

Whether it is rifle season or an archery hunt, there are good chunks of public land with incredible landscapes to hunt. Muzzleloader, rifle, crossbows, and archery equipment are all legal to hunt elk with.


Elk in Nebraska... What?? Yep, it is true. Elk had gone extinct in the Corn Husker State by 1900. In a fortunate twist, by the 1960s, Rocky Mountain elk began naturally returning to Nebraska from nearby states.

With elk herd numbers now hovering around 3,000, residents can apply for antlerless or once-in-a-lifetime bull elk hunt through the state's lottery system.

Only one opportunity exists for non-resident elk permits and that is the Super Tag. The Super Tag allows for one either-sex deer, one either-sex elk, one either-sex antelope, and two turkeys. You can put in unlimited entries at $10 a pop.

If you are lucky enough to draw these elk tags, there are some seriously big bulls in Nebraska including 400-inch Class Booners. Now that's some "corn-fed" elk right there.


Kansas game management units seem as unlikely to hold elk as Nebraska. But they were once abundant on the landscape prior to settlers arriving. If you are a non-resident looking for an elk hunting trip to Kansas, though, you are out of luck.

The only exception is if you are a non-resident landowner or tenant involved in active agricultural operations on at least 80 acres.

There are no regular OTC (over-the-counter) opportunities other than a couple of special landowner permits. For the general statewide draw, there are nearly a thousand applicants for the twenty or so permits the state gives out.

Military personnel and residents should have some good hunting with trophy elk potential like this big bull.


Minnesota is another midwestern elk hunting spot with small numbers of elk, but big antler potential. With harvest success rates over 50% in the early season, resident hunters have a shot at big bulls on public or private land. Elk herd numbers may not be huge in Minnesota, but they tend to have great genetics.

There are no non-resident cow or bull tags and less than 40 available elk tags for residents. Elk hunters who are lucky enough to draw these coveted elk tags are looking at a once-in-a-lifetime elk hunt. Hunting pressure is likely to be very low.

Good luck on those antlerless or big bull permits this hunting season! Draw elk tags in any of these lesser-known elk hunting spots and you should be in for some real unique elk hunting.