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2017 Elk Hunting Season

Permit Application Schedule

Elk | Public Land   Elk | Private Land
May 1 Application period begins June 1 Application period begins
June 1 Application deadline July 15 Application deadline
June 24 Public land permits will be drawn from online applications at the annual Buffalo River Elk Festival in Jasper    
June 24 Public land permits will be drawn for a person who registered during the festival    

Public Land Elk Hunting Information

29 public land elk hunting permits will be drawn for the 2017 season

Public Land Elk Permit Application Requirements

  • Only Arkansas residents with a Resident Sportsman Hunting License or holders of a Lifetime Sportsman's Permit may apply. 
  • A $5 nonrefundable application fee is required to apply.
  • Applicants must be 6 or older to participate.
  • Applicants with 12 or more violation points are ineligible to apply.

Public Land Elk Hunt Details

Public land elk hunts are held on designated areas of the Buffalo National River, Gene Rush WMA , Richland Valley Sonny Varnell Elk Conservation Area and Bearcat Hollow WMA.

Private Land Elk Hunt Information

Elk Management Assistance Program (EMAP) Application Requirements

  • Private land elk permit applications must be submitted by mail, postmarked no earlier than June 1 and no later than July 15. 
  • Applications must include a $35 fee.
  • Applications may be submitted by residents and nonresidents owning property within the private lands elk hunting zone.
  • Applicants must possess a valid Arkansas hunting license. Applicants under 16 must have a valid hunter education certification.
  • Applicants with 12 or more violation points in the past five years are ineligible to participate.
  • Only one application per property (contiguous acreage owned by a common owner) will be accepted for EMAP permits. Contiguous acreage owned by a common owner cannot be split or subdivided to obtain additional EMAP permits.
  • Duplicate, illegible or incomplete applications will not be processed.

EMAP Permits

  • Landowners will be issued a number of permits based on the acreage of their property and the quota for the season (see Addendum Chapter S1.00 below).
  • Permits will be issued to eligible landowners and will be transferable from the landowners to eligible hunters.
  • EMAP permits must be used only within the boundary of the EMAP property they were issued to.

Icon Addendum Chapter S1.00 (43.0 KB)

EMAP Private Land Elk Hunt Details

Elk hunting on private land is restricted to one zone, consisting of all private land in Boone, Carroll, Madison, Newton and Searcy counties (except a portion of Boxley Valley).

2017 Private Land Elk Season (by EMAP permit only)
Youth Hunts: Sept. 30-Oct. 1 and Oct. 28-29, 2017
Regular Elk Hunts: Oct. 2-6 and Oct. 30-Nov. 3, 2017
2017 Private Land Elk Quota
12 Either sex elk
40 Antlerless elk

Hunters must call 800-440-1477 each night to see if the quota has been reached. The season ends Nov. 3 or the morning after the quota is reached, whichever comes first.

Icon 2017 Elk Management Assistance Program Permit Application (641.0 KB)

Statewide Elk Hunt Information

Any hunter outside of Boone, Carroll, Madison, Newton and Searcy counties who sees an elk while legally hunting for deer may take that elk with a limit of one, either sex per year.

2017 Elk Season

Core Elk Management Zone Public Land Hunts (By Drawn Permit Only)

Youth Hunts: Sept. 30-Oct. 1 and Oct. 28-29, 2017
Regular Elk Hunts: Oct. 2-6 and Oct. 30-Nov. 3, 2017

Core Elk Management Zone Private Land Hunt (By EMAP Permit Only)

Youth Hunts (antlerless elk only): Sept. 30-Oct. 1 and Oct. 28-29, 2017
Regular Elk Hunts: Oct. 2-6 and Oct. 30-Nov. 3, 2017

Private Land Quota

The Core Elk Management Zone Private Land Hunt has a quota of 12 either sex elk and 40 antlerless elk. Hunters must call 800-440-1477 each night to see if the quota has been reached. The season ends Nov. 4 or the evening the quota is reached, whichever comes first.

Statewide Elk Management Zone

In all counties outside the Core Elk Management Zone (Boone, Carroll, Madison, Newton and Searcy counties), hunters may take any elk they see while deer hunting with muzzleloaders and archery equipment legal for deer or with modern guns of at least .24 caliber.

Season Limit

One elk, either sex

Elk populations once numbered in the millions and occupied habitats across most of North America. Shrinking habitat and overhunting reduced these large populations to a few persistent herds in the West.

The eastern elk (Cervus elaphus canadensis) lived in eastern pine and hardwood forests, and was native to Arkansas. Records indicate it persisted no later than the 1840s, and is now extinct.

The USDA Forest Service introduced Rocky Mountain elk (Cersus elaphus nelsoni) in Franklin County's Black Mountain Refuge in 1933. Three bulls and eight cows from Wichita National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma were released. This herd increased to an estimated 200 by the mid 1950s, then vanished. No one knows for sure what caused the elk to disappear. Some speculate illegal hunting, natural mortality and shrinking habitat through forest growth eventually caused their demise.

In 1981, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, in cooperation with private citizens, initiated another elk restoration project in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas. Between 1981 and 1985, 112 elk from Colorado and Nebraska were released in Newton County. All release sites were near the Buffalo National River.

The AGFC monitors the elk herd with the cooperation of the National Park Service. Through field observations, records on public comments and non-hunting mortalities and harvest data, the herd is estimated at about 450 animals. Arkansas's elk range covers approximately 315,000 acres, of which 85,000 are public land. Public land within the elk range include National Park Service land, a small portion of National Forest land, and the AGFC’s Gene Rush Wildlife Management Area, bordering National Park Service property along the Buffalo River.

Without suitable habitat, elk would soon disappear from Arkansas. Realizing this, state, federal and private interests have worked together to expand and improve elk habitat along the Buffalo River. Since 1992, the AGFC, cooperating with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, has done extensive habitat improvement work on Gene Rush WMA. Year-round elk use of the WMA has increased significantly, and more habitat work is planned.

The National Park Service also wants to ensure the future of the elk herd. Their efforts to create and maintain beneficial elk habitat along the 95,730-acre Buffalo National River includes conducting prescribed burns, planting wildlife friendly grasses and legumes, reclaiming old fields, maintaining hay fields and establishing native grass openings.

Elk continue to slowly expand their range toward the mouth of the Buffalo River; however suitable habitat and the potential for developing more elk habitat on the lower portion of the river is limited.

The modern day Arkansas elk hunt was established in 1998. Hunters are selected by a random draw for a limited number of public land elk permits. There also are private land permits based on a quota system. Hunters applying for private land permits must have written landowner permission to qualify for an either-sex elk permit.

Interest in Arkansas elk increases each year. Not only in hunting these animals, but viewing them as well. More Arkansans visit the Buffalo River area each year to observe and photograph these magnificent animals, especially in late September and early October when elk are breeding. The herd will never be large compared those in western states, but these elk provide an exceptional wildlife-viewing and hunting opportunity.