Bull Elk

Set among ancient granite mountains in southwest Oklahoma, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge offers opportunities for high quality hunting on one of the oldest refuges in the nation. Partnering with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC), the refuge offers controlled elk, white-tailed deer, youth turkey and spring turkey hunts, while also allowing open season on waterfowl (duck, goose, merganser and coot) in certain portions of the refuge according to refuge specific regulations. Incidental take of feral hogs (exotics) during controlled hunts is permitted. Public hunts have been offered on the refuge since 1969 with the introduction of rifle hunting for Rocky Mountain elk.

In 1984, rifle hunting expanded to include white-tailed deer. While the white-tailed deer herd is native to the area, the elk herd started in 1911-1912 when Rocky Mountain elk were reintroduced to replace native herds of Merriam’s elk, which were previously indiscriminately hunted into extinction. Today, careful management ensures their survival, controls their numbers, and allows a portion to be harvested. This rich tradition of wildlife-dependent recreation continues annually and occurs throughout the refuge with the exception of areas outside the boundary fence (974 acres), interior working pastures (1,764 acres), and areas with high public use, primarily around buildings, roads, public-use facilities and administrative facilities (2,831 acres).

Public use is important to the mission of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; however the National Wildlife Refuge System was established to protect ecosystems and the plants and animals contained within refuge boundaries. Plants and animals are protected from hunting unless a specific refuge hunting season allows for the take of animals. Currently, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge partners with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. (ODWC) to offer controlled elk, deer, youth turkey, and spring turkey hunts, while also offering open season on waterfowl (duck, goose, merganser, and coot) in certain portions of the refuge according to refuge specific regulations. Please note: portions of the refuge are open to other uses. It is your responsibility to know the hunting seasons, regulations, boundaries, and open areas. Refuge boundaries are marked with white signs with blue lettering. 

How to Apply for Controlled Hunts

Participating hunters are randomly selected from applications received at the ODWC web site. Application deadlines are generally in early May for that year's hunt.

To apply, navigate to the application web page on the ODWC web site. Closely follow the directions, as any discrepancy will disqualify you. Names go into a drawing and the lucky ones are chosen. Usually, several thousand applicants (approximately 30,000 for the elk hunt alone) vie for very few slots, so the competition is tough. Hunters successfully drawn to participate in the refuge's elk or deer hunts will be notified by email from the ODWC. NOTE: This is a procedure established in 2009. Paper mailings will no longer go out to those drawn for the hunt.

Included in your notification packet will be instructions on mailing appropriate fees. You will be sent confirmation of fee receipt. Your information packet will also include detailed instructions and information about your hunt, including regulations of the refuge, how your hunt will be conducted, and schedules.

If you require assistance with your hunt or are a special needs hunter, please contact us prior to your hunt. The refuge and ODWC staff work diligently to provide a quality hunting experience for everyone involved.

Results of the drawings for the public elk and deer hunts on the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge are available online at the ODWC web site.

A permit is required for all hunting at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

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