Contact: Bob Nack, DNR Big Game Section Chief
[email protected] or 608-617-3492

Image of elk and deer side by side

Don’t shoot an elk during gun deer season. Know your target. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR & iStock/rogertrentham

MADISON, Wis. – While out in the woods for gun deer season Nov. 21 -29, hunters may encounter elk or moose. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds hunters to take an extra second to be sure of your target before you shoot this season.

Once widespread across North America, elk were eliminated from Wisconsin in the 1880s. Thanks to the support of many partners and the backing of Wisconsinites, the herd is back.

“A few young bulls have stretched their legs in search of cows during the mating season which may place them in areas that surprise hunters,” said Bob Nack, DNR Big Game Section Chief. “In general, elk are larger than deer, have tall, sweeping antlers, darker necks and lack the characteristic tail colors and appearance observed on white-tails.”

After reintroduction efforts, elk are now in two distinct regions of the state. The northern region includes Ashland, Bayfield, Price, Rusk and Sawyer counties, and the central region consists of the area surrounding Jackson County. Between the two herds, nearly 400 elk roam across Wisconsin. However, individual elk are spreading out throughout the state.

Learn about the differences between elk and whitetail deer below and with the DNR’s comparison guide.

Although Wisconsin has not reintroduced moose, there are several verified moose sightings across northern Wisconsin each year. A few hunters may even be lucky enough to see one this fall.

Hunters should follow all firearm safety rules and in this case to be sure of their target and what is beyond it. Positively identifying the target ensures the safety of other people and avoids the accidental shooting of non-target animals.

Hunters are also reminded to keep COVID-19 safety measures in mind when out in the field. As Wisconsin continues to see record-setting numbers of positive cases of COVID-19, health and safety is paramount.

On Nov. 10, Gov. Tony Evers issued Executive Order #94 outlining new measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19. This order advises Wisconsinites to stay home, use extra precautions if they must leave their home and adopt good public health practices. Businesses are also encouraged to take further steps to protect workers, customers and the surrounding community.

To learn more about elk in Wisconsin, visit the DNR website.

Elk and deer description poster

Comparing elk to white-tailed deer / Credit: Wisconsin DNR

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