Nine hunters work to thin county’s elk popluation

Lydell Anderson, left, poses for a photo with Jodie Provost, of Aitkin, Minn., and her 6×6 bull elk she shot on his land Sunday morning. Provost was one of nine hunters in Kittson County this week hunting elk.                                              (Photo courtesy of Heather Anderson)

By Anna Jauhola
     CARIBOU – Jodie Provost’s elk fell with one shot.
     She and her husband, Tom, tracked a bull elk in Caribou Township on Saturday evening and picked up the trail Sunday morning to a field. As the bull began leading his harem into the woods, Jodie took her position behind a row of haybales.
     She set her 30/06 sights on the bull and took her shot.
The 6×6, approximately 800-pound elk fell and the adventure was complete.
     Jodie, of Aitkin, Minn., was one of nine people who ventured out for the first elk hunting season this year in Kittson County. Most hunters received antlerless tags, two received either sex tags and two received bull tags. Jodie was one of two people drawn for the only two tags for the Caribou herd.
     “I just have to thank God for this hunt,” Provost said after she, her husband and a friendly landowner had skinned and quartered the animal. “He definitely helped us find the land and people who have helped us.”
Assistant Area Wildlife Manager Jason Wollin said many do not realize there is a sizeable number of wild elk roaming the northern portion of the county.
“They are like the hidden gem of Kittson County,” he said.
Both Jodie and Tom had applied for tags in the hunt this year. Jodie was lucky enough to be drawn. Once she heard, she and her husband began preparing. Jodie said she practiced her marksmanship for weeks before the hunt. And prior to this week, the couple ventured up to the Caribou area twice to scout for land and the herd’s movement. They listened for bugling, looked for tracks, markings and rubs.
     Once the couple determined where several of the animals gathered, they began visiting area residents to ask permission to hunt land.
They came across Lydell Anderson, who said he is more than happy to allow hunters to take elk off his land.
     “We want to get rid of them,” Anderson said. “They run through fences and do damage to crops.”
     Like other hunters, the Provosts brought their own four-wheeler and a trailer with to haul the elk out. They took the time to stop at Anderson’s farm and take a photo Sunday morning.
     Jodie said she plans to mount the skull cap and antlers over her fireplace. She also removed one of the scapula bones and plans to have a scene of the hunt painted on it for display.
     Most of all, Jodie said she enjoyed sharing the adventure wit her husband and the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful area of Caribou Township.
Annual Hunt
     Each year, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources determines how many animals can be harvested from the two elk herds in Kittson County. This year, they issued 20 tags for the Kittson Central herd near Lancaster and two tags for the Caribou herd in Caribou Township, both of which were issued for this week’s hunt. Seven lucky hunters hunted elk in the Kittson Central herd this week. Two more seasons will take place later this year.
     In an earlier interview with The Enterprise, Wollin noted the Kittson Central herd should be between 50 and 60 animals. In late 2017, he counted 75 elk in that group, which led to the decision to issue 20 tags split into three seasons for the 2018 event. He said the Caribou Township herd varies in size because it wanders between the U.S. and Manitoba daily. The count was lower on the U.S. side this year, so only two tags were issued.
     As a part of the hunt, each hunter must collect samples from their kill, including blood, hair with skin attached, muscle samples and a certain tooth for aging. The DNR retrieves the brain stem and brain to test for various diseases, including chronic wasting disease and tuberculosis.
     The application deadline to be put into the draw pool for the annual hunt was in June. Only Minnesota residents can apply for this once-in-a-lifetime hunt.
     The hunt lasts through Saturday.

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