LITTLE ROCK – If you want an opportunity to harvest Arkansas’s largest big game animal, now is the time to put your name in the hat. The application period for Arkansas’s public land elk hunting permits is open from 8 a.m., May 1 until 11:59 p.m. June 1.
Twenty-nine permits will be drawn to hunt elk in Arkansas’s Buffalo River Country live on stage at the 22nd Annual Buffalo River Elk Festival, June 29. Twenty-six of those permits will be drawn from applications received through the online application system. The remaining three will be drawn from people who apply onsite during the festival. All permits are drawn from a large squirrel cage, right on the square, and winning applicants will be contacted via phone and email as soon as the drawings are concluded and verified.
Wes Wright, elk program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission expects another excellent year for elk hunters who are successful in drawing a permit.
“We just completed our annual aerial survey and counted 557 elk, which is almost the same count as last year (559),” Wright said. “Overall our herd is in great shape and holding steady.”
Wright says two of the last three years have seen record elk harvests, and additional removal of elk showing possible signs of chronic wasting disease has not created any decrease in the overall population.
“We’re taking a lot of elk out with both hunter harvest and CWD sampling and holding steady, so we may even see a small increase in the future,” Wright said.
Wright says none of the 66 hunter-harvested elk last year came back positive for CWD.
“We had two elk test positive in Newton County that were targeted and removed because they showed signs of the disease,” Wright said. “But even elk that have been removed because they were exhibiting possible signs of CWD have shown a low prevalence. We’ve tested 67 elk since 2016 that showed signs in addition to all the elk harvested during hunts, and still have found only 19 positive cases of CWD in the elk herd so far.”
Applicants for Arkansas elk hunt permits must have a valid Resident Sportsman Hunting License or must be a holder of a Lifetime Sportsman’s Permit. Hunters under 16 (as of May 1, 2017) must enter their social security number to create an account and apply, unless they have not yet been assigned one by the U.S. government. Applicants must be 6 or older as of the beginning of the hunt to participate. Anyone with 12 or more violations points is ineligible for the permit.
Visit licensing.agfc.com to apply. Elk permits are listed under the WMA permit section of the licensing menu. Applications require a $5 nonrefundable processing fee, but no additional fees are required of hunters who successfully draw.