MDC seeks public comments on future antlerless-elk hunting season

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – After several years of successful antlered-elk hunting seasons for Missouri residents, the Missouri Department to Conservation (MDC) is considering adding a limited antlerless-elk hunting season for residents and wants public input. 

MDC reintroduced wild elk in portions of Carter, Reynolds, and Shannon counties in the Missouri Ozarks about a decade ago. According to MDC Elk and Deer Biologist Aaron Hildreth, those elk numbers continue to grow and may soon be able to allow the harvest of a small number of antlerless elk. 

“Since the elk reintroduction was completed, we’ve watched elk numbers steadily increase,” Hildreth said. “We are approaching the time where we can support hunting a limited number of antlerless elk in addition to the limited number of antlered elk.” 

Hildreth explained that MDC’s population goal for elk in Missouri is to get to about 500 animals and to use hunting to manage herd size and keep them limited to Carter, Reynolds, and Shannon counties. He added that the herd is currently estimated to be around 320 animals before calving begins this year. 


To keep elk-hunting regulations as simple as possible, MDC is proposing that many aspects of antlerless-elk hunting mirror antlered-elk hunting, which has been occurring since 2020. 

As with antlered-elk hunting, antlerless-elk hunting would be limited to Missouri residents who would be at least 11 years of age by the first day of the hunt for which they are applying. The application fee of $10 and permit cost of $50 would be the same for antlerless and antlered elk and all permits would be assigned through a random drawing. All permits would be allowed to be used in Carter, Reynolds, and Shannon counties, except the refuge portion of Peck Ranch Conservation Area. Permits would be valid for both an archery portion and a firearms portion, as with antlered-elk permits. Season dates, landowner opportunities, methods of take, and other details would also be like antlered-elk hunting.

MDC has not determined the number of permits that will be issued or confirmed a year to begin offering them. The recommended number of permits will be determined though annual staff surveys of elk numbers to monitor population growth. MDC currently designates five hunting permits for antlered elk.

Watch a video on potential future antlerless-elk harvest at


MDC is seeking input on future antlerless-elk hunting opportunities and welcomes public comments at through April 28. Individuals who have applied for antlered-elk permits in past years will be emailed a survey for their comments on antlerless-elk hunting and do not need to provide comments through the webpage. 

“Input received during the comment period will be used by MDC staff to help finalize a proposed antlerless-elk hunting framework that would be presented to the Conservation Commission at its Sept. 6 meeting for consideration,” said Hildreth. “The Commission would first need to approve the hunting framework prior to any permit quota recommendations. We would then make recommendations to the Commission early in the new year on elk permit numbers for the upcoming fall season.”


Once common throughout most of Missouri, elk disappeared from the state about 150 years ago due to unregulated hunting and habitat loss. MDC reintroduced elk to portions of Carter, Reynolds, and Shannon counties about 10 years ago.  

Learn more about elk and elk hunting in Missouri at

Learn more about the Missouri Elk Management Plan at

Want to see Missouri elk? MDC offers self-guided driving tours through parts of the elk restoration zone in the Missouri Ozarks. Learn more at