Arizona Elk Hunting
Just like various game species throughout North America, the sport of Arizona elk hunting has endured numerous fluctuations. In 1893 the territorial legislature imposed a closed season, but this restriction was already too late. The native elk population had already been eradicated.
So where did the elk that are there now come from? Part of the elk herd that had been established in Yellowstone National Park was released into Arizona between 1913 and 1929. These transplants were successful and subsequently by 1935 the Arizona elk numbers were presumed to be adequate enough to support a limited bull hunt. Two hundred sixty six permits were issued and one hundred and forty five elk ended up being harvested. These hunts were allowed to continue every year through 1943.
The First Cow Permits
As a result of the Second World War no hunting season was implemented during 1944 or 1945, however a restricted hunt which allowed for the very first cow elk permits was sanctioned during 1946. The Arizona elk hunting opportunities increased nearly every year after that due to the fact that ranchers along with biologists were concerned that the elk population in Arizona could possibly get out of hand.
Preventing The Numbers From Dropping
Such fears culminated in the year of 1953. In that year 6,288 elk tags were issued and 1,558 elk were harvested. More than 1,000 of that number were cows. Because of the numerous concerns regarding the large number of cows taken the year before, in 1954 the Arizona elk permits were significantly reduced and remained under 5,000 until 1965.
At that time more than 6,000 tags were once again granted to hunters. In 1967 the permit numbers exceeded 7,000 and the total annual Arizona elk harvest reached approximately 1,500 elk. These permits once again began to be lowered; despite the fact that new hunts such as archery hunts, were implemented.
The Arizona Elk Population Grows
The Arizona elk population and elk permit statistics once more were moving upward by the mid-1980s. This encouraging progression continued until 1994. In that year roughly 11,000 elk were taken! That figure would have been inconceivable only twenty years before. Ever since that time elk population numbers along with elk harvests have continued at a high level.
Today Arizona land and wildlife managers continue to try to maintain and manage the delicate balance between the elk and the environment in which they live. The revenue from the elk permits is used toward elk research and to gain valuable habitat in which they can live. These management and conservation efforts have helped to double the number of record-breaking trophy elk in Arizona.