Elk are found primarily in the
Black Hills; however,
limited herds occupy prairie landscapes in Fall River, Meade, Butte, Bennett and Gregory counties. South Dakota's present-day elk herd, residing in the Black Hills, consists of over 6,000 Rocky Mountain elk. Only South Dakota residents are eligible to apply for and receive an elk license in South Dakota.
Options for hunters include firearm and archery seasons both inside Custer State Park, and seasons in the Black Hills area outside the park. In addition, there are other areas outside the Black Hills where elk hunting opportunity exists.
The application process for the elk seasons opens in mid-April with a late May deadline.
You may apply for any and all seasons for which you are eligible; however for equitable distribution of licenses you will be limited to one elk license for the year. Licenses are drawn in sequence from season to season.
- Leftover Licenses
- Drawing Results
- Past Draw Statistics
- View all applications / deadlines
- 2016 Elk Sightability Surveys, Explanation and Results
2015-2019 Elk Management Plan
The first drawing will be for all eligible applicants. See "License Eligibility" under each season section in the following application instructions. Only one choice may be made per season in the first drawing. You can apply for a second choice in the second drawing. Preference only applies to the first drawing. If you draw your first choice on the first drawing, you will lose eligibility for the specified duration in future years.
First Elk Drawing:
- Applicants may submit one choice for each of the five open elk seasons that they are eligible for. There will be no second choices processed for the first drawing.
- A nonrefundable $10 application fee must be submitted for each season applied for.
- The elk drawings will be conducted in the following order: Custer State Park Firearms Any Elk, Custer State Park Archery Elk-Early Season, Black Hills Firearms Elk, Prairie Firearms Elk, and Black Hills Archery Elk.
- Once an applicant has drawn a permit, they are not eligible for subsequent drawings. However, the individual will continue to receive additional preference for subsequent drawings as an unsuccessful applicant. Only one elk license is allowed per individual per year, and this will eliminate the possibility of any individual drawing two licenses.
- Applicants will be notified if they were successful in the drawing. Those who applied online by credit card will have the full license fee charged to their credit card. Those who applied by paper application will be given until June 20 to submit the full license fee to the GFP License Office.
- Successful applicants will lose all preference for that particular season and eligibility for future drawings.
Second Elk Drawing (if required):
- Anyone who does not have a 2016 elk license is eligible for the second drawing, including those individuals that were not eligible for the first drawing.
- Applicants may make a first and second choice for licenses remaining in each particular season after the first drawing.
- Those applying online will be charged the $10 nonrefundable fee and if successful the full license fee will be added. Those applying by paper application must submit both the $10 nonrefundable fee plus the full fee for the license. The full license fee will be refunded if unsuccessful.
- The drawing sequence will follow the same sequence as first elk drawing.
- Tags will be mailed to successful applicants. Unsuccessful applicants will be refunded the license fee.
Applicants will have the option of using their preference points in the second draw to increase their odds of drawing a license. If a person uses their preference points in the second draw, they will lose all accumulated preference points for that season and will be ineligible to apply for that season in the first draw for 9 years.
Third Elk Drawing (if required):
- Anyone who does not have a current year elk license is eligible for the third drawing.
- Rules as described for the second elk drawing also apply to the third drawing.