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Custer State Park Elk


One of the most coveted hunts for South Dakota residents is the once-in-a-lifetime Custer State Park Firearms "Any Elk" hunt.

  • Season Dates:
    Custer State Park Rifle Elk - Sept. 16 - Oct. 1, 2017
  • See application for Custer State Park Early Archery Elk and Antlerless Elk season dates.


Preference Points

Preference points will be factored into the application process in which successful applicants will lose all accumulated preference points for the Custer Antlerless Elk season and will not be able to re-apply for this season for nine years.


application Information

Additional Information

Chronic Wasting disease (cwd)

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal brain disease of deer and elk that is believed to be caused by an abnormal protein called a prion. Animals infected with CWD show progressive loss of weight and body condition, behavioral changes, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urination, depression, loss of muscle control and eventual death. Chronic wasting disease is always fatal for the afflicted animal. The disease cannot be diagnosed by observation of physical symptoms because many big game diseases affect animals in similar ways. Research suggests CWD prevalence rates above 13% may cause elk population declines.

  • New information on CWD prevalence rates from both CSP (2016 season) and WICA (2016/2017 herd reduction program) warrants adaptive management to learn more about the prevalence rate of CWD in CSP elk, begin managing at a lower population density in the identified area, and to evaluate and respond accordingly for future management actions. 
  • CWD positive prevalence rate of approximately 17% was determined from adult elk harvested by hunters during the 2016 CSP elk hunting season.  This is a concern, both short and long-term for CSP and Black Hills elk populations.
  • CWD positive prevalence rate of approximately 14% was determined from adult elk removed during the WICA herd reduction operation during the winter of 2016/2017. 
  • To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people. However, animal studies suggest CWD poses a risk to some types of non-human primates, like monkeys, that eat meat from CWD-infected animals or come in contact with brain or body fluids from infected deer or elk. These studies raise concerns that there may also be a risk to people. Since 1997, the World Health Organization has recommended that it is important to keep the agents of all known prion diseases from entering the human food chain.

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Archery Educational Requirements*

To be able to apply for a SD archery big game license, all big game archery licensees ages 11 through 15, all first-time archery big game licensees regardless of age, and all archery elk licensees must possess a National Bowhunter Education Foundation (NBEF) certificate or certification of completion from a bowhunter education course approved by any state or provincial government.

*Note: Applicants who have held a big game archery license in the past may apply for antelope without completing an NBEF course if they indicate on the application the year and state of a former archery license held.

HuntSafe courses

South Dakota's HuntSAFE program takes the responsibility of teaching hunter ethics seriously. The HuntSAFE program is a required course for young hunters in South Dakota before youth can enter the field and hunt game. With participation in this course, the young hunter learns about respect for our state's natural resources, respect for other hunter's and perhaps most importantly, respect for landowners.