The Missouri Department of Conservation has notched another immense success in our state’s history. The elk restoration plan has worked. After obtaining wild elk from Kentucky and relocating them to Missouri, where elk are a native species, the herd has continued to grow. The animals started showing up in 2011. Now, less than a decade later, Missouri is going to have an elk hunt.

The restoration of this iconic American wildlife species by our state is something all Missourians should be proud of. We are fixing mistakes our forefathers made that led to the demise of many creatures we share the land with. Some, like the passenger pigeon, are lost forever. Yet, where we can, we’re righting wrongs. Elk in Missouri is a great example.

Listening to elk bugle is a moving and inspiring experience. It's powerful to know we as a society are still working hard for wildlife and wild places. Today, we have dedicated professional scientists at the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) working as hard as ever to return wildlife species to their native landscapes after being senselessly extirpated a century ago. Black bear numbers are also on the rise.

Most of the elk live on Peck Ranch Conservation Area, which is located near Winona and consists of 23,763 acres of some of the most rugged country in Missouri. MDC purchased Peck Ranch back in 1945 with funds made available through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act. Initially the property was used for wild turkey management. Now, it’ll be forever remembered as the location of one of our greatest wildlife restoration efforts, returning wild elk to their native landscape.

I have elk hunted in western states, only ever taking one. A cow in Montana. But the experience is incredible and so is the meat. Not many people are going to be lucky enough to hunt elk in Missouri, because of the very low number of tags, but those fortunate few are in for a hunt of a lifetime and a freezer full of some of the richest, most delicious, healthy game meat on the planet.

Missouri hunter and popular radio host, Nathan “Shags” McLeod, said, “Growing up in Oregon, we always hunted elk. I guess I sort of took it for granted. When I moved to the Midwest and came to realize how good we have it in the west, I really missed elk hunting. Now, just having elk to see and listen to in Missouri is awesome, but to be able to have an elk, that’s unreal. I am so excited to put my name in the lottery, and even though I probably won’t draw a tag, I am going to be so excited for those hunters who do and I can’t wait to hear their stories. This is a huge deal for Missouri.”

The MDC recently held a webcast where they outlined the rules and regulations for the upcoming 2020 elk season. They announced there will be up to 10 tags available, only to Missouri residents, through a random lottery. The cost is $10 to take a chance. You can’t win if you don’t play. If you’re drawn, the cost of a license is $50. Applicants must be 11-years-old or older, and be hunter education certified if born after 1966.

There will be separate archery and firearms seasons. The archery portion begins the third Saturday in October and lasts nine days. The firearms portion begins the second Saturday in December and also lasts nine days.

For more information, visit the MDC website at

See you down the trail.