To say the five Missourians drawn for the state’s first managed elk hunt are excited is a massive understatement.
“When MDC (Missouri Department of Conservation) contacted me via email, I was at work,” said 59-year-old Eugene Guilkey, the lone participant who has never hunted elk. “I literally jumped out of my chair screaming I had won! My coworkers thought I had lost my marbles! My family and I were almost in shock and disbelief! Since that day, I’ve thought of almost nothing else in my spare time… lodging, scouting, learning to call elk, gear… I’m like a kid at Christmas!”
Missouri’s inaugural elk hunt begins in October. MDC will issue one permit each to five Missourians randomly drawn from 19,215 permit applications, including 33 for one resident-landowner antlered-elk permit and 19,182 for four general permits. Each of the five can purchase their elk-hunting permit starting July 1 for a cost of $50. The five hunters can then each harvest one bull elk that has at least one antler being a minimum of six inches long. The five hunters may hunt using archery methods Oct. 17-25 and firearms methods Dec. 12-20. Each permit is valid for both the archery and firearms portions of the elk-hunting season.
“Pretty darn excited to draw this tag!” said Michael Buschjost. “I’m really looking forward to being part of this first hunt. A ton of work has been done on MDC’s part to make this happen.”
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation played a key role as well. RMEF provided both volunteer manpower and funding support leading to the successful restoration of wild, free-ranging elk to their native range. In 2000, RMEF invested more than $61,000 to help fund Missouri’s initial elk restoration study. A restoration plan was subsequently approved. RMEF gave $40,000 to help build a trapping and handling facility used to bring elk from Kentucky to Missouri. RMEF also pledged $300,000 to the state of Missouri to ensure the elk not only arrive, but thrive. Elk hit the ground in 2011.
And that support only continues. Since 1991, RMEF and its partners completed 130 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Missouri with a combined value of more than $2.9 million. These projects enhanced 9,484 acres of habitat.
“I battled cancer last year, and during my battle and recovery, I found an elk-hunting show on television that only hunts public land. I thought perhaps one day I could do that… and now I can!” said Guilkey. “At this time last year, I was given the news I had cancer. Now, a year later, I’ve been given the opportunity of a lifetime! Thank you for the chance!”
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(Photo source: Missouri Department of Conservation)