DNR: Know the differences between elk and white-tailed deer this hunting season

(Gregory Johnston | WSAW)
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 11:08 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is reminding to hunters to make sure they know the differences between elk and white-tailed deer as the hunting season approaches.

As archery and crossbow season begins Sept. 17, the DNR says it’s important to be able to identify the differences between elk and white-tailed deer, as some elk may travel out of the management zones they’re in during breeding season.

Any elk taken without a tag may result in a fine and revocation of a hunting license.

Here is how the DNR says to identify an elk:

  • Adult elk are larger than adult deer. An adult elk stands about 1-2 feet taller than an adult deer at the shoulders. An elk calf will be about the same size as an adult white-tailed doe but will display similar coloration to adult elk.
  • Spot the difference in the antlers. White-tailed deer antlers curve forward, whereas elk antlers are larger and sweep back from their heads.
  • Look for color markings. Elk have a tan rump patch, black legs and a dark brown mane. Deer have legs the same color as their bodies, a white throat patch and a fluffy white tail.
  • Additional markers. Elk moving throughout the state may have noticeable markers including colored ear tags or tracking collars. These collars are fixed around the neck and are typically orange in color, sometimes with a visible printed number.

The DNR’s comparison guide offers tips on how to spot the differences between elk and white-tailed deer as well.

There are currently two herds of more than 450 Elk in Wisconsin reintroduction areas - including one up north near Ashland, Bayfield, Price, Rusk, and Sawyer counties, as well as one in the area of Jackson County.

Wisconsin has not introduced any moose to the area, however, there are several verified moose sightings across the northern part of the state.

If you notice any elk outside of their management zones, or see a moose, it can be reported to the DNR through their Large Mammal Observation Form.

The DNR asks hunters to follow all firearm safety rules and make sure of their target and what is beyond it.