When Is the Best Time To Hunt Elk in Texas
For many hunters, harvesting an elk is a bucket list goal. And if you’re finally ready to cross it off your list, then you have a lot of planning to do. The first and most important part of your plan should be to ensure you’re in the right area at the right time. This means learning all you can about Texas elk hunting season.
A History of Texas Elk
The history of elk in Texas is long and varied. Eyewitness accounts and historical reports from the early 17th through the 20th centuries document the presence of native elk throughout the Lone Star State. In fact, archaeological evidence of bones, antlers and teeth indicate the presence of elk in Texas for many hundreds of years.
Historically, elk inhabited the Guadalupe Mountains in the area of far west Texas known as the Trans-Pecos. DNA research indicates that the area’s free-ranging elk in the Davis and Glass Mountains are the result of the natural immigration of elk from the Lincoln National Forest of New Mexico, which is just north of the Texas border, and close to the Guadalupe Mountains.
Before the introduction of hunting limits and regulations, these elk were harvested nearly to extinction. Private landowners began reintroducing elk to the Trans-Pecos in the late 1920’s. The elk that populate the West Texas mountain region today originated when these elk escaped or were released from these private ranches.
Understanding the Lack of Texas Elk Hunting Season
Prior to 1997, elk were classified as a game species, and were subject to a regular hunting season, which limited when hunters could harvest them. The classification changed when legislators declared elk exotic animals.This was due to the fact that elk were only native to a small area in the Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas, and typically were found nowhere else in Texas. (This is also why you will see elk listed in our exotic hunt options on our website.)
Game species are controlled by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the populations are managed using hunting seasons and bag limits. However, the re-classification of elk as an exotic species meant elk can be harvested year-round without regard to the number of animals taken. Exotic species are not subject to seasons or bag limits.
Is There an Optimal Time to Hunt Elk?
All of this history explains why there is no elk hunting season in Texas the way there is for other species, such as Texas whitetail deer. Still, while you can hunt elk year-round, that’s not to say you’ll always be successful. That is why it is important to hunt elk at the right time of year.
The best time to hunt elk in our area is during the rut, which typically occurs in September and October. The rut is the mating season where you will be most likely to see elk on the move. During the rut, males often rub their antlers or horns on trees, fight with each other, wallow in mud or dust, and do other things that make them easier to see, hear, track and locate. Elk also frequently use areas around fresh water during the rut, giving us a good idea of where they’ll be.
Enjoy Texas Elk Hunting at Stone Creek Ranch
Here at Stone Creek Ranch, we offer world-class hunting experiences year-round. If you’re interested in harvesting elk, you’ll want to come stay with us this fall, during the elk rut period. The rut begins in September, and can sometimes run as late as November, although September and October remain the prime times to hunt. Typically, you do not want to hunt elk in February or March of each year, as this is the period when most drop their antlers and begin to grow a new pair. After all, what’s an elk trophy without a set of antlers?
Now is the time to begin planning your trip to Stone Creek Ranch during the next Texas elk rut. Whether you are a first-time hunter or an experienced one, we know our world-class hunting lodge will exceed your expectations. And who knows, maybe you’ll be able to cross that elk off your list of trophies.