• Article

    The 2010 article "Smoky Mountain Elk" in AT Journeys magazine says:

    Adult male elk weigh an average of 600-700 pounds. Cows average 500 pounds. Adults are seven to ten feet long from nose to tail and stand four-and-a-half to five feet tall at the shoulder. Adult males have antlers that may reach a width of five feet. Their main diet consists of grasses, forbs, acorns, bark, leaves, and buds from shrubs and trees. Cows usually give birth to only one calf per year, and newborns weigh about 35 pounds. They can stand within minutes of birth, and calf and cow usually rejoin the herd within a couple of weeks. Calves nurse for one to seven months. Females are ready to breed in the second autumn of their lives. Coyotes, bobcats, and black bears may kill young, sick or injured elk. Gray wolves and mountain lions, both of which have been extirpated from the Great Smoky Mountains, are also successful predators of elk elsewhere. Elk can live as long as 15 years.

    Most elk shed their antlers in March. The antlers, which are rich in calcium, are quickly eaten by rodents and other animals. After they have shed their antlers, elk immediately begin growing new ones. In late spring, elk shed their winter coats and start growing sleek, copper-colored, one-layer summer coats. Most calves are born in early June. Male elk roll in mud wallows to keep cool and avoid insect pests. By August, elk antlers are full grown and have shed their "velvet." Calves have lost their spots by summer's end. Male elk make their legendary bugling calls to challenge other bulls and attract cows. Their calls may be heard a mile or more away. Large bulls use their antlers to intimidate and spar with other males. Most encounters are ritualistic and involve little physical contact; only occasionally do conflicts result in serious injuries to one or more combatants. During the "rut in September and early October, dominant bulls gather and breed with harems of up to 20 cows. Elk wear a two-layer coat during the colder months. Long guard hairs on the top repel water and a soft, wooly under fur keeps them warm. (Elk, AT Journeys)

    Charles P. Forbes
    December 6, 2010
  • Bibliography

    Major References

    ****. Elk Once Terrorized Woodruff Farmers. [The First 100 Years, 1888-1988, Centennial Edition, p. 123] Minocqua, 1988. View Full Entry
    ****. Elk Coming to Black River State Forest. [Wisconsin Forestry Notes, March 2015] Madison, 2015. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    Bishop, James. Up for the Morning [Elk] Bugle Call. [Wisconsin Natural Resources, 27:4, August 2003, pp. 4-10] Madison, 2003. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    Bortz, Dean. Knudtson Battled Infamous Elk Herd. [The First 100 Years, 1888-1988, Centennial Edition, p. 115] Minocqua, 1988. View Full Entry
    Flather et al.. Wildlife Resource Trends in the United States. [ Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRSGTR-33] Ft. Collins, CO, 1999. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    Gilbert, Jonathan. Improving the Distribution of Elk in Wisconsin Through Assisted Dispersal. [Mazina'igan, A Chronicle of the Lake Superior Ojibwe, Winter 2011-2012, p. 5.] Odanah, 2011. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    Jackson, H. H. T.. Mammals of Wisconsin. Madison, 1961. View Full Entry
    Kahler, Kathryn. Herd in the Balance. [Wisconsin Natural Resources, Vol. 34, #6, pp. 17-23, Dec, 2010.] Madison, 2010. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    Malmgren, Carol. History of White Birch Village. [Ballard-Irving-White Birch Lakes Assn, Summer 2020 Newsletter, P. 6] Star Lake, 2020. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    Murie, Olaus. Elk of North America. Washington, 1951. View Full Entry
    Penthorn, Meredith. From Coal Mines to Jack Pines. [Wisconsin Natural Resources, Vol 39, #6, December 2015, pp. 4-6.] Madison, 2015. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Elk in Wisconsin. [Brochure (4 panel). PUB WM-669-2018] Missoula, MT, 2018. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    Sanderson, Ivan. Living Mammals of the World. Garden City, New York, 1955. View Full Entry
    Steinhart, Peter. Company of Wolves. New York, 1996. View Full Entry
    Trees for Tomorrow. Wisconsin's Wildlife Success Stories. [Northbound, 24:2, Summer 2004] Eagle River, 2004. View Full Entry
    Wiener, Rob, Ed.. Surveying Species, Monitoring Wisconsin's Wildlife. [Northbound, Vol. 27, #1, Winter 2007.] Eagle River, 2007. View Full Entry
    Wis DNR. Wisconsin Elk Herd Not Quite Ready for Hunt in 2014. [DNR Weekly News Update (by email), April 8, 2014] Madison, 2014. View Full Entry (Full text available)
    Yarkovich, Joe. Smoky Mountain Elk.... [AT Journeys, Nov.-Dec. 2010, pp. 36-39.] Harpers Ferry, WV, 2010. View Full Entry

    Minor References

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  • Miscellany


    A DNR email, March 13, 2018, stated:

    Fall 2018 marks Wisconsin’s first managed elk hunt in history

    Years of hard work by key partners and DNR staff will give ten Wisconsin hunters the opportunity of a lifetime this fall...

    The planned hunt is within the Clam Lake elk range of Sawyer, Bayfield, Ashland, and Price counties in far north-central Wisconsin. Original restoration efforts occurred within this range with the release of 25 elk from Michigan in 1995. This northern herd is projected to reach a population level of over 200 animals this year, including a high proportion of bulls. Check out this helpful Facebook Live session with DNR big game ecologist Kevin Wallenfang to learn more.

    Ten tags will be made available for a bull-only hunt in Fall 2018. Four tags will be awarded to Wisconsin residents through a random drawing. One additional tag will be awarded to a Wisconsin resident through a raffle conducted by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Consistent with federal court rulings, the elk harvest quota is being shared equitably with the six Wisconsin Chippewa tribes.   Only Wisconsin residents are eligible to purchase an elk tag. The application fee is $10 and applications will be available starting May 1 through the Go WILD system at Prior to receiving their carcass tag, all drawing winners will be required to complete an elk hunter education course prior to the start of the season.   The elk harvest quota for 2018 was determined by the department’s Elk Advisory Committee, which, in addition to DNR biologists and researchers, includes representation from Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation; Wisconsin Wildlife Federation; Jackson County Forest and Parks; Wisconsin Conservation Congress; U.S. Forest Service; Wisconsin Bowhunters Association; Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission; U.W. Stevens Point, and Ho-Chunk Nation.   Wisconsin’s inaugural elk hunting season will adhere to the following guidelines: • season will be open from October 13 to November 11, 2018 and December 13-21, 2018;

    • only bull elk may be harvested;

    • Areas where Kentucky elk were released between 2015-2017 will be off limits to hunting until the population increases to levels identified in the elk management plan;

    • only Wisconsin residents are eligible to receive a harvest tag; and

    • harvest tags may be transferred to a Wisconsin resident youth hunter 17 years or younger.