The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has announced that three lucky Wisconsin residents won a once-in-a-lifetime elk harvest tag for the 2021 Wisconsin elk hunting season, which opens Oct. 16.

The DNR randomly selected the three hunters from a drawing pool of more than 25,000 applicants. The winning hunters are from the greater Madison, Marshfield and Manitowoc areas.

In May, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board approved a harvest quota of eight bulls from the northern elk management zone. Of the eight tags, the DNR will award four to state hunters. The Ojibwe tribes will receive an allocation for the remaining four elk tags per their treaty rights within the Ceded Territory.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will award the fourth state elk hunting license through a raffle, with proceeds funding elk management and research in Wisconsin. Interested hunters can purchase raffle tickets on the RMEF website. The RMEF will draw the winner on Aug. 14.

The 25,000 Wisconsinites who applied for an elk permit this year contributed directly to the future of the state’s elk population. For each $10 application fee, $7 goes to elk management, habitat restoration and research. In 2021, some applicants chose to give amounts above the $10 fee and their additional donations totaled more than $9,700.

The 2021 elk hunting season will occur only in Wisconsin’s northern elk zone in parts of Ashland, Bayfield, Price, Rusk and Sawyer counties. The northern elk herd population is projected to reach 330 animals this year.

Although the state’s central elk herd is projected to number 115 elk this summer after calving, hunting will not occur in the central elk management zone in 2021.