Elk Hunting in Alaska
Elk are not native to Alaska, but they have been introduced to some islands in the state since the 1920s. Today, elk can be found on Afognak Island, Raspberry Island, Etolin Island and Zarembo Island. Elk hunting in Alaska is a challenging and rewarding experience for hunters who are looking for a big game adventure.
Elk Hunting Opportunities
Elk hunting in Alaska is managed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) through a drawing permit system. Hunters must apply for a permit during November and December of the previous year and pay an application fee. The drawing results are announced in February. Most drawing hunts are available to both residents and nonresidents, but some are restricted to residents only.
The elk hunting season in Alaska varies depending on the location and the hunt type. Generally, the season runs from August to December, with most hunts occurring in October and November. The bag limit is one bull elk per hunter per regulatory year.
According to ADF&G, the elk harvest statistics for 2020 were as follows:
- Afognak Island: 25 permits issued, 13 hunters participated, 9 bulls harvested
- Raspberry Island: 25 permits issued, 11 hunters participated, 7 bulls harvested
- Etolin Island: 30 permits issued, 14 hunters participated, 8 bulls harvested
- Zarembo Island: 30 permits issued, 12 hunters participated, 5 bulls harvested
The overall hunter success rate for elk hunting in Alaska was 41% in 2020.
Elk Hunting Regulations
Elk hunters in Alaska must follow the general hunting regulations as well as the specific regulations for each hunt area. Some of the general regulations include:
- Hunters must have a valid hunting license and a drawing permit for elk hunting.
- Hunters must report their harvest within 10 days of taking an elk or by January 31 of the following year, whichever comes first.
- Hunters must salvage all edible meat from the elk and transport it to their home or camp.
- Hunters must leave evidence of sex (antlers or genitalia) naturally attached to a portion of meat until it is processed or delivered to a transporter or processor.
- Hunters must comply with the legal methods and means of taking elk, such as using centerfire rifles or shotguns with slugs, muzzleloaders, bows and arrows or crossbows.
- Hunters must respect private property and obtain permission before hunting on private land.
The specific regulations for each hunt area can be found on the ADF&G website or in the hunt supplements. Some of the regulations may include:
- Hunt dates and hours
- Hunt boundaries and access points
- Hunt quotas and closures
- Antler restrictions and definitions
- Special equipment requirements
- Special reporting requirements
Hunters should check the current regulations before applying for a permit and before going on a hunt.
Elk Hunting Tips
Elk hunting in Alaska requires a lot of preparation, planning and physical fitness. Elk are large animals that live in rugged terrain and can be elusive and wary of humans. Hunters should be prepared for any weather conditions, terrain challenges and wildlife encounters. Some tips for elk hunting in Alaska are:
- Do your research on the hunt area, the elk population, the habitat and the access options. Use maps, aerial photos, online resources and local contacts to plan your hunt.
- Apply for multiple hunt areas to increase your chances of drawing a permit. Be flexible and willing to hunt in different locations if you are successful in the draw.
- Scout the hunt area before the season or hire a guide who knows the area well. Look for signs of elk activity such as tracks, scat, rubs, wallows and calls. Identify potential feeding, bedding and travel areas.
- Use appropriate gear and equipment for elk hunting. Choose a firearm or bow that can deliver enough energy to kill an elk humanely. Use quality optics such as binoculars, rangefinders and spotting scopes to locate and judge elk. Pack enough food, water, clothing, shelter and survival items for your hunt duration.
- Be prepared to pack out your elk if you harvest one. Elk can weigh up to 1,300 lbs and require a lot of effort to field dress, quarter and transport. Use game bags, tarps, ropes and sleds to protect and move your meat. Consider hiring a transporter or using horses or ATVs if available.
- Be respectful of other hunters, landowners and wildlife. Follow the hunting ethics and regulations. Avoid crowding other hunters or disturbing elk or other wildlife. Obtain permission before hunting on private land or using private facilities. Report any illegal or unethical activities to the authorities.
Elk Hunting Resources
Elk hunting in Alaska can be a rewarding and memorable experience for hunters who are willing to take on the challenge. However, it also requires a lot of preparation, planning and knowledge. Hunters who are interested in elk hunting in Alaska should consult the following resources for more information:
- The ADF&G website (https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=elkhunting.main) provides information on elk hunting opportunities, regulations, harvest statistics, hunt supplements and contact information.
- The Alaska Outdoors Supersite (https://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/elk) offers information on elk hunting tips, tactics, gear and stories from experienced elk hunters in Alaska.
- The Northern Lights Elk Ranch (https://www.northernlightselkranchofalaska.com/) provides guided elk hunts on private land in Alaska. Hunters can choose from different hunt packages and enjoy a guaranteed harvest of a trophy bull elk.
- The Steve’s Outdoor Adventures (https://steveshunts.com/hunting-packages/roosevelt-elk-hunts-in-alaska) offers fully guided boat-based hunts for Roosevelt elk in Alaska. Hunters can hunt on remote islands with low hunting pressure and high elk densities.