JASPER – If you didn’t get around to applying for one of Arkansas’s coveted public land elk-hunting permits in May, you still have a shot to claim one of the best big-game tickets in The Natural State. Three special public land elk hunting permits will be available to register for on-site at the Buffalo River Elk Festival, June 22-23.
“We want to offer multiple ways for people who are serious about wanting an Arkansas elk tag to get a chance,” said Wes Wright, elk program coordinator for the AGFC. “It also adds a little extra excitement to the drawings at the festival.”
One on-site permit is for either a bull or cow elk, and the other two are for antlerless elk only. While thousands of applicants apply for the main public land permits, only a few hundred have their name in the hat for the on-site tags.
“People can register for the on-site permits from 1 to 4 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Newton County Senior Center,” Wright said. “The regular permits are drawn from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, and we wrap up the elk permit drawings with the onsite permits at 5 p.m.”
Applying for an onsite permit is free, but applicants must have a current resident sportsman’s license when they apply.
“Youth and adults who are residents of Arkansas are eligible for all three on-site tags,” Wright said.
As with online hunt permits, anyone with 12 or more violations points on their license is ineligible to apply for an elk permit.
Wright says despite the recent discovery of chronic wasting disease, the elk herd remains stable.
“Before CWD was found in Arkansas, the herd had been slowly increasing,” Wright said. “Now we have regulations in place that let deer hunters take any elk that goes outside the elk management zone.”
All elk harvested in Arkansas must be submitted for a mandatory CWD test upon harvest.
“Samples tested from previous hunts have shown the CWD prevalence remains low in the elk herd,” Wright said. “But it’s just good practice to get any deer or elk from the CWD endemic zone tested. The test is free for all elk and if it comes up positive, we can help the hunter dispose of the meat properly.”