Is Kansas becoming elk country?
Well, that’s a stretch. Still, hunters are finding elk in parts of the state where they once were not commonly seen.
The Fort Riley Army Base near Junction City has long supported a healthy herd, but reports of hunters shooting elk far from that post are now turning up.
In December, The Star featured an article about Brenda Doudican of Emporia shooting an elk on private land in Lyon County. Now there is a report of a larger bull elk taken by a hunter in Anderson County during the firearms season.
Brogun Jahn of Garnett, a deer hunter, was checking his trail cameras in October when, to his surprise, he came up with images of an elk. He contacted game warden Joshua DeHoux to see if he knew anything about the bull.
DeHoux checked area elk farms to see if any of their captive herd had gotten loose, but finally determined it must have been a wild animal. The warden also informed Jahn that he could purchase an over-the-counter elk tag and hunt the elk during the firearms season that coincided with the firearms deer season Dec. 3-14.
“Some people don’t know that residents and landowners can purchase elk tags over-the-counter in many parts of Kansas,” DeHoux said. “There is a drawing for tags at Fort Riley, and you’re lucky if you get drawn.
“But every once in a while, we’ll have someone run across an elk somewhere else. I see hunters in this area take elk a couple times every season.”
For Jahn, finding an elk in Kansas was a pleasant surprise.
“I had just been out in Wyoming hunting mule deer and antelope, and I saw huge elk every day,” Jahn said. “I couldn’t shoot because I didn’t have a tag. But it was fun watching.
“I had always dreamed of elk hunting.”
Little did he know that he would be doing it in the most unlikely of spots — on private land not far from his home.
Though the elk wouldn’t have been considered a trophy out West, it was still an impressive big game by Kansas standards. Jahn has the elk at the taxidermist and plans to display it in his den as a reminder of a memorable hunt.
Deer concerns in Kansas
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is looking into establishing more restrictive deer-hunting regulations.
At a commission meeting Thursday in Bonner Springs, Lloyd Fox, the big-game program coordinator for the agency, discussed the possibility of reducing the length of the season and the number of permits for shooting antlerless deer and limiting nonresident permits in some units.
Fox mentioned the proposals in response to low deer numbers in some parts of the states and complaints from hunters during the recent firearms season. Final harvest data from the deer season and the results of winter spotlighting surveys aren’t in yet. But if they show significant declines, changes might be in order, Fox said.
He blames the cumulative effects of three consecutive years of drought and the impact of hemorrhagic disease in northern and eastern Kansas for the decline in deer populations.
Beating the winter blues
Fisheries biologists in northwest Missouri are willing to show fishermen how to beat winter.
The officials from the Department of Conservation have scheduled an ice-fishing clinic Jan. 24 at Mozingo Lake. The event, which will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., will depend on the weather. If ice conditions are not favorable or it is too cold, the workshop will be canceled.
Bait and tackle will be provided while supplies last. Fisheries workers will even drill the holes for participants.
Participants must preregister by calling and 816-271-3100 and leaving their name, phone number, and number of fishermen in the party.
To contact outdoors editor Brent Frazee, call 816-234-4319 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.