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Elk Hunting

Applications Open Soon for the Inaugural Virginia Elk Hunt Lottery

Plan ahead! Packing out an elk is no joke! An adult bull elk may weigh 400+ pounds after field-dressing, a cow elk 300+ pounds. If boned-out an adult bull elk will still yield 175+ pounds of meat to pack out and that’s if you leave behind the head, skin, and antlers.

Elk hunting is currently prohibited in Buchanan, Dickenson, and Wise Counties. Elk hunting in the rest of Virginia is permitted as follows:

  • Elk of either sex, antlered or antlerless, may be taken during any open deer season with a big game tag and using weapons legal for deer during that season with the exception that elk may not be harvested with air rifles or slingbows.
  • The taking of an elk counts toward the hunter’s daily and yearly bag limit for deer but it must be reported as an elk.
    • Only one elk per day may be taken statewide
    • An animal with antlers above the hairline counts toward a hunter’s either-sex (buck) deer limit
    • An animal without antlers counts toward a hunter’s daily and seasonal antlerless deer limit
      • Elk cannot be harvested on DPOP, DMAP, or DCAP tags.
  • Elk must be checked in the same manner in which deer must be checked; however, in addition to checking an elk via a check station, phone, or internet, dead elk must also be reported by calling 804-367-0044.
  • Disease testing is required for all hunter-harvested elk. A Department biologist will need access to the entire gut pile in order to collect tissue samples.
  • The hunter may either pack out all of the gut pile contents or record the location. The hunter may need to be present in person to help locate the gut pile for testing. Get more information about disease testing in elk.
  • It is unlawful to destroy the identity (sex) of any harvested elk until the animal is checked. An elk may be dismembered to pack it out from the place of kill. The identity of the sex and all parts of the carcass must be present when the elk is checked.
  • It is illegal year-round to distribute food, salt, or minerals to feed or attract deer or elk in the counties (including the cities and towns within) listed on this page.
    • In the remainder of the state, it is illegal to place or distribute food, salt, or minerals to feed or attract deer or elk from September 1 through the first Saturday in January. It is also illegal to put out these substances to attract deer or elk during any deer or elk season within any county, city, or town that allows deer or elk hunting. This prohibition does not include the planting of agronomic crops or wildlife food plots.
    • Get more information on feeding elk

As stated above, successful elk hunters must check in their elk via check station, phone, or internet, and must also call 804-367-0044 to schedule the collection of biological samples from the carcass for disease testing.