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Bull Elk Skull in Ranch Fence

2024 Estimated Elk Herd Populations by State

Top 5 Elk States & Links to Their Wildlife Agencies

Where do you even begin as an out of state hunter to plan an archery or rifle elk hunt? Some states make it easier, and certainly more attainable, than others. Here are the top 5 states as of 2024 boasting the largest elk herds and links to each state's wildlife agency website, which hold the key to planning your dream elk hunt. A complete list of elk populations by state follows.

The Elk Extravaganza: Top 5 States

  1. Colorado (290,000 elk): Colorado reigns supreme with its massive elk population. Head to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website ( to plan your dream hunt.
  2. Montana (135,000 elk): Montana's diverse landscapes offer ample opportunity to pursue elk. Visit the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website ( for licensing information.
  3. Oregon (133,000 elk): With vast wilderness areas and a thriving elk population, Oregon is a hunter's paradise. Find details on hunting licenses at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website (
  4. Idaho (120,000 elk): Known for its expansive public lands, Idaho offers excellent opportunities for elk hunting. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game website ( has all the licensing information you need.
  5. Wyoming (112,900 elk): Don't miss the chance to hunt elk in Wyoming's breathtaking landscapes. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department website ( provides details on licenses and seasons.

Which US states have elk? Here's a breakdown of 2024 estimated elk herd populations by state.

Estimated Elk Population
Colorado 290,000
Montana 135,000
Oregon 133,000
Idaho 120,000
Wyoming 112,900
New Mexico 80,000
Utah 74,000
Washington 60,000
Arizona 40,000
Nevada 17,750
Kentucky 13,100
California 13,000
South Dakota 7,500
Oklahoma 5,000
Nebraska 2,750
Texas 1,600
Pennsylvania 1,350
Alaska 1,300
Michigan 1,000
North Dakota 850
Arkansas 450
Tennessee 450
Wisconsin 400
Kansas 350
Virginia 250
Minnesota 240
Missouri 200
North Carolina 175
West Virginia <100


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