Elk In Arkansas: Everything You Need To Know About Them

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Amin Tawar

Elk In Arkansas
Elk In Arkansas: Everything You Need To Know About Them

Termed one of the largest terrestrial mammals on the earth, Elk specifically the ones in the North American continent are sought out for wildlife sightings and hunting. These creatures shouldn’t be confused with the elks of Europe which are actually moose.

Elks are present in various states of the country including Arkansas. 

Below In this article, I’ve explained everything you need to know about their presence in the state, some historical areas, and some legalities related to hunting one.

Is There Any Elk in Arkansas?

Yes, There are elk in Arkansas. Many people including the residents of Arkansas don’t realize that elk are actually native to the state. They were quite common in the past especially in the northern parts of the state, until in 1860s when they were pushed to extinction. This is believed to be due to overhunting, habitat loss, and domestic livestock competition. 

Today, due to restoration efforts taken up by the state, these creatures have once again occupied a few parts of the state. Though these creatures haven’t yet occupied their historical range, their population is stable and thriving in some regions.

How Many Elk Are in Arkansas?

As per the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, there are about 500 free-ranging elk that are allowed to roam freely in any part of the state. 

In fact, as per recent surveys, their population is on the rise again. And yes, their population may have fluctuations in the future too due to various factors including hunting regulations, natural condition changes, and new conservation efforts. 

For instance, during the late 1800s, elk disappeared from the state along with other wild creatures like black bears, and buffalo. But in the late 1900s, after the re-introduction of these creatures, their population grew to hundreds.

How did elk get into Arkansas?

Elk In Arkansas
Elk In Arkansas: Everything You Need To Know About Them

Isn’t it shocking that for almost 140 years, there were no elks found in Arkansas?! Yes, elk are native to the state. But they were extirpated in the mid-1800s possibly due to extensive hunting, habitat destruction, and competition from other mammals.

And only in the 1930s did the state step up and started reintroduction of these creatures. About 11 elk were transported from the Rocky Mountains into Franklin County by the U.S. Forest Service. But significant improvement didn’t occur until 1981 when the control of the elk population went to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and they stepped up to increase their population.

Where Can I See Elk in Arkansas?

Elk in general prefer to inhabit grassy areas, meadows, and grasslands with an abundance of food. There are many places in Arkansas to see elk. But the best one would be the Boxley Valley area in the upper Buffalo National River area. The place is home to a large herd of elk. Additionally, you can also catch them along highway 43, Ponca Elk Education Center, and more areas of Buffalo National River. 

Best Time to See Elk in Arkansas?

Like elks all over the country, the ones in Arkansas are most active during the breeding season which is also called rutting. You will find the bulls, male elks, bugling for cows, and competing with each other. 

This is during the fall between September and October. Additionally, these creatures are nocturnal, and therefore to improve your chances try to observe them at dusk or dawn.

What County Are Elk in Arkansas?

Elk is prominent in Newton County in the northern region of Arkansas. This county is home to Buffalo National River where the elk re-introduction program took place. No wonder, most sightings occur here. 

Other nearby counties like Searcy County, Boone County, Carroll County, Madison County, and Johnson County also inhabit small populations of these magnificent creatures. 1

Can You Hunt & Shoot Elk in Arkansas?

Yes, You can hunt and shoot elk in Arkansas, provided you are lucky enough to obtain a hunting permit through the lottery system. Yes, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has set up a lottery-based system to assign elk hunting permits. Note that the number of permits depends on the quotas for the season which is all set by the AGFC. 

The state is divided into various hunting zones with each zone having its own hunting season, bag limits, and other regulations. Before you apply for the permit, see to it that you have a valid hunting license, and at least 6 years old. 

After application, if you are picked up, do follow the regulations and rules set by the agency, and don’t forget to report the harvested elk if you do manage to hunt one.

This year, the agency has established a quota of just 18 elks for the hunting season which is set to be organized in the first and last week of October.

Also Check Our Guide On Elk In Arizona

Can a non-resident hunt elk in Arkansas?

As per the application requirements for an elk hunting license, only residents of Arkansas can apply for the permit. Therefore, it is illegal for a non-resident to hunt elk in the state. 

Only a state resident with a Resident Sportsman Hunting license or a holder of a lifetime Sportsman permit may apply for the license. But don’t worry, you can try to just observe and look at them from a safe distance.

Also Read About Elks In America


And that was everything you need to know about the Elk In Arkansas. I hope this article answered all your queries.

Thank You For Reading!

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