The 2016 elk hunts in northwestern Minnesota wrapped up on Sept. 18 with another successful season in the Kittson County area, according to the Department of the Natural Resources. Five of seven hunters harvested bulls.
Two zones were open to hunting and all permits were bull only. In the Caribou-Vita herd (Zone 30), which migrates between northern Kittson County and Manitoba, two permits were issued and both hunters successfully harvested 6×6 bulls, meaning each bull had six points on each side. One bull was harvested on private land and one on the Caribou Wildlife Management Area.
In the Kittson-Central herd (Zone 20), located near Lancaster in Kittson County, three of five permits were filled with 5×6, 6×6 and 6×7 bulls, all on private land.
“We are excited to be able to offer elk hunters the opportunity to take part in these once in a lifetime hunts in northwestern Minnesota,” said Ruth Anne Franke, Karlstad area wildlife supervisor. “The large tracts of public land and willingness of landowners to allow elk hunting on their properties make Minnesota an excellent elk hunting destination. We are grateful to local landowners for their support.”
The elk season was timed to coincide with the elk rut (breeding season) and elk were actively bugling. This gave hunters the opportunity to locate the bulls by listening for their bugles, and test their bugling (calling) and stalking skills.
Once again, a hunting season was not offered in the Grygla area where herd numbers remain below the population goal of 30-38 elk. The Grygla herd survey last winter recorded 21 elk. Previous estimates are 18 in 2015, 20 in 2014 and 28 in 2013. This herd hasn’t been hunted since 2012.
Elk management in Minnesota
The DNR’s goal is to maintain a free-ranging, wild elk population in northwestern Minnesota. The department envisions a healthy population that offers recreational and economic opportunities while actively addressing conflicts between elk and people. Habitat and herd structure will be maintained. Hunting seasons are used to help manage problem animals and herd size.
Information on Minnesota’s elk and the current management plan is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/elk.