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Where Elk Are Today in the East Day 1:...

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Where Elk Are Today in the East Day 3:...

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Where Elk Are Today in the East Day 2: Elk in Minnesota, Missouri & North Carolina

Elk in the wild
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Editor’s Note: I love to hear the call of the sirens like the Greeks of old, even if the sirens aren’t scantily-clad beautiful mermaids but instead have big, heavy, massive antlers and thick, brown coats. Today elk – majestic animals once thought to be only in the West – have returned home to the East. One source of good news in this COVID world is that elk weighing 800 pounds, standing 5 feet tall at the 

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shoulder and having a length of 8 feet have come home once again to some eastern states. Today you can hear the mystical, melodic, piercing, high-pitched bull elk bugles in some of their historical habitat. Thanks to the efforts of state departments of conservation, interested landowners and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (https://www.rmef.org/), 11 eastern states, including: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Virginia and Arkansas, have had their elk restocked, and the herds are thriving. Several states even offer limited hunting opportunities for elk. Prior to European settlement, more than 10-million elk roamed nearly all of the U.S. and parts of Canada. Today that number totals about 1 million. By the 1840s to the 1870s, most of the elk east of the Mississippi River had been killed for food and hides that could be sold for other essentials by frontier settlers. For many years, finding, seeing or hearing an elk in the East was impossible.

Elk in the wild

  • Minnesota: Frontiersmen still saw elk there in 1884, and in 1914, game officials introduced 56 elk from the Yellowstone National Park to the lands at the head of the Mississippi River. The elk in Minnesota’s northwest section moved south from Canada to form a herd today that’s 200+ elk, mainly living in the 14,000 acre Caribou WMA. The RMEF invested about $1 million in Minnesota to insure more open prairie for elk. The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewas worked to bring elk back to their historical range south of the one-million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/elk/index.html).


  • Missouri: Biologists and game officials in Missouri finally have brought wild elk back to the state and the Current River in 2011 to the Elk hunter in the snowplace where the elk have lived last at the end of the Civil War. Since then, Missouri’s herd has increased by 10 percent each year and now is at about 200 elk, with RMEF members providing $2 million to help these elk.  Missouri hopes to offer an elk-hunting season in the early 2020s. Eminence, Missouri, has named itself Missouri’s Elk Capital and now offers elk-based tourism (https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/elk).




To learn more about hunting elk successfully, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “Elk: Keys to 25 Hunters’ Success,” available in Kindle, print and Audible versions at https://amzn.to/2IDszQk. You may have to copy and paste this click into your browser. (When you click on this book, notice on the left where Amazon allows you to read and hear 10% of the book for free). On the right side of the page and below the offer for a free Audible trial, you can click on Buy the Audible with one click.


Tomorrow: Elk in Pennsylvania, Tennessee & Virginia

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