Elk hunters in Kittson County of northwest Minnesota are having high success again this fall, based on results from three of the four seasons to date, the Department of Natural Resources reports.
The DNR this year offered 28 tags in Zone 20 near Lancaster, Minn. – eight either-sex and 20 antlerless-only – spread across four, nine-day seasons: Aug. 28-Sept. 5, Sept. 11-19, Sept. 25-Oct. 3 and Oct. 9-17.
Seven tags – two any-elk and five antlerless – were available for each of the four seasons.
The DNR offered two bull-only tags during a single, nine-day season Sept. 11-19 in Zone 30, the Caribou Township area of northeastern Kittson County. Both hunters drawing tags in Zone 30 shot adult bulls for 100% success, the DNR said.
Elk in Zone 30 generally are part of the “Caribou-Vita” herd, also known as the “Border Herd,” which ranges between northeast Kittson County and the Vita, Manitoba, area.
According to DNR reports, six of seven hunters participating in the first season in Zone 20 filled their tags, taking two adult bulls and four adult cows, for a success rate of 86%. All seven hunters in Zone 20 filled their tags in the second season, taking two adult bulls, four adult cows and one female calf, for 100% success.
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The third season in Zone 20 wrapped up Sunday, Oct. 3, and six of seven hunters filled their tags, shooting two adult bulls – a 7x7 and a 6x6 – three adult cows and one male calf, for a success rate of 86%, according to Jason Wollin, acting area wildlife manager for the DNR in Karlstad, Minn.
The overall success rate after the first three seasons in Zone 20 is 90%, Wollin said.
“The rut is picking up with plenty of bugling,” Wollin wrote in a report to DNR staff. “Bulls are pushing their harems around, according to hunters.”
The final nine-day season in Zone 20 gets under way Saturday, Oct. 9, and continues through Sunday, Oct. 17. Elk tags in Minnesota are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity issued by lottery to residents only. This year's lottery drew 4,449 applicants for the 30 available licenses, said Blane Klemek, northwest region wildlife supervisor for the DNR in Bemidji.
Five of the licenses allocated this year in Zone 20 were set aside for qualified landowners, and in two cases, husbands and wives each drew tags.
In his report to DNR staff, Wollin said having two situations in which husbands and wives each drew tags could be a sign the DNR is running low on qualified landowner applicants.
“Seems that I remember only 25 landowners applied (and qualified as landowners) for the five tags offered this year,” Wollin wrote. “At this rate, we could run out of landowners in a few years.”
The DNR last year offered 44 elk licenses in Kittson County, and hunters in Zone 20 shot 35 elk – 20 cows or antlerless elk and 15 bulls – for a success rate of 83%. As was the case this year, both hunters drawing bull-only tags last year in Zone 30 filled their tags.