Officials say the elk population looks large enough to allow for the first elk hunt in over a century.
According to the report, MDC elk specialist Aaron Hildreth highlighted a significant upward trend in numbers, as the herd currently sits at about 175 elk. Before considering the comeback of an annual elk hunting season, the MDC requires a minimum of 200 animals, which Hildreth believes is possible by the fall of 2020. It also has to comprise one bull for every four cows, and most show a collective annual growth of 10 percent.
Hildreth said the animals have already started making their way out of the Peck Ranch Conservation Area where officials first released them after the import from Kentucky in 2011.
"We're starting to get this expansion, but it's still within the elk restoration area," he said.
The MDC is optimistic about growth, hoping to see it reach anywhere from 400 to 500 elk. And, as the herd continues to grow, more people will have a chance at getting permits.
According to the outline, however, there will likely only be 5-10 permits available in the first season, which would probably only be available to Missouri residents. Each hunter will have to pay a $10 permit application fee, which will earn you a spot in a random lottery. Hunters selected in the lottery would have to then pay $50 for the permit itself.
To be eligible for the lottery, hunters must be 11 or older and hunter education certified (unless they were born before Jan. 1, 1967). Additionally, anyone who actually gets a permit will have to wait 10 years before they can apply for another.
There will be an archery season that lasts for nine days beginning the third Saturday of October, as well as a nine-day firearms season that begins the second Saturday of December. There likely won't be minimum rifle caliber requirements, though the MDC recommends upgrading from that trusty deer rifle, as an elk weighs four times as much as a Missouri whitetail.
Stay tuned here at Wide Open Spaces for more updates.