Kansas elk 2023


Well-known member
Jul 30, 2011
Long before settlers reached Kansas and before the market hunters wreaked havoc on the plains there were untold bison, elk and antelope roaming the land. Deer were present in lower numbers than what exist now in the Sunflower State. Deer hunting once again became a reality in the 60’s with resident only hunting over a very short season. Small transplants of elk returned wapiti to the plains, and have grown to the point that there is elk hunting in Kansas again.

From the KDWP website:

Elk were another big game species that were common in pre-settlement Kansas. They were also extirpated at the turn of the century. However, a small herd was maintained at the Maxwell Wildlife Area near McPherson. The 2,200-acre enclosure is operated as a refuge and also features bison. In 1981, elk from Maxwell were released at the Cimarron National Grassland, and that herd was free-ranging. To keep that herd from growing too big and causing crop damage, a limited resident-only season was opened in 1987. Later in the 1980s, elk were captured at Maxwell and released on the Ft. Riley Military Reservation. That herd is also free-ranging, and a season was established for the fort in 1990. Today, elk are primarily hunted on and around Ft. Riley, but individual elk or small herds may be found at other locations around the state, and hunting is permitted everywhere except Morton County. About 900 applications are received for the 20 or so permits allotted each year, and they are divided among military personnel and Kansas residents.

This year marked my 11th year applying, hoping for a miraculous draw success. For my first choice I put in for the “any elk” tag which is commonly called a bull tag which is good for the entire Ft Riley elk season and then 2nd 3rd and 4th choices for antlerless tags which are good for either October November or December.

KDWP sent out a email blast to resident hunters in the draw for pronghorn, deer and elk that results would be announced the last Friday of June. No email for elk results of Friday, and none the next week either. And then the next week, there was some credible info on a Kansas hunting and fishing Facebook group that the draw was happening and then phone calls would be made to the lucky few who drew tags.

All that next week I was checking my phone for a call coming in from Pratt KS. Nothing. And more nothing. Followed by more nothing coming from them. And then last Friday I checked my personal profile in the app and saw that my 10 bonus points and grown by one due to unsuccessful elk applications. Bummer. Major bummer. A hollow feeling that most hunters know all to well if applying for long odds tags.

No longer expecting a phone call from Pratt, I kept drilling, filling and billing at my dental office, and looked forward to a three day weekend starting Friday. This afternoon sitting on my couch catching up on HuntTalk threads, my phone rang, and the caller ID said Pratt KS.

Answering the call, I heard Jason, the big game draw coordinator ask me if I still wanted to go elk hunting in Kansas this fall. He explained that a successful applicant was not going to accept their tag, and I was the first alternate in line. This was the last tag to be allocated, and of course I said I indeed want the tag.

We did some formalities with credit card payments due to the return/reissue and he
assured me that my E-tag would soon appear in my app.

I get to go to the Post to hunt elk! There are several issues about hunting on the installation, including needing to complete their safety briefing, getting a $25 hunting permit (non hunter/fishing recreationalists are free) and being very clear to understand what areas are closed for the tank and artillery training.
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Pretty short season. Hope you can find the time. ;)
Any resident can buy the tag OTC, which is then good for all of Kansas except Morton county (elk refuge in farthest southwest county in Kansas) or Ft Riley. Various weapons restrictions apply. I can hunt elsewhere if I wanted to, but that is a very low density option.


Ft Riley elk herd numbers run from 250-400 on 100k+ acres. Much higher density on post than off, as the lands surrounding the post have some outfitted hunting going on. If you are an elk, staying on post is better for your longevity, just don’t be near any artillery or tank practices if you don’t want to get blown up.
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