Kansas was once home to native elk, but they were extirpated at the turn of the century before being reintroduced. The state now has a small, self-sustaining elk population, with herds as close to Topeka as the Fort Riley area. Occasionally a stray elk will make its way this far east, as one was spotted a few years back in Topeka. Winchester, located in Jefferson County, is about 12 miles east of Valley Falls and 41 miles northeast of Topeka.
The bull’s rack will be officially scored Nov. 5, according to Klenklen’s wife, Lacy, who submitted photos of the elk to The Topeka Capital-Journal.
“Land owners (two) had told him there was a rogue elk that has been around their property for the past three years,” Lacy Klenklen wrote in an email. “Well, while out dove hunting, my husband accidentally walked up on this elk, 40 yards or so, and spooked him up. He couldn’t believe it, he was real and he was right in front of him!”
The following day, DJ Klenklen decided to purchase an elk tag and try to find the big bull again. He went out in the field and waited for hours in the exact same spot with no sign of the elk.
“Then all the sudden, birds started to fly, you could here something coming through the timber, and then the infamous bugle,” Lacy Klenklen said. “It was him. For about 20 minutes or so, he just watched him come in closer. Finally, at 60 yards, the bull turned broadside and he took his first shot.
“The elk didn’t run, he just seemed confused. My husband loaded his gun again. The elk spun around, now being broadside the opposite direction, and my husband fired a second shot. This time the elk started to trot off before finally going down just 20 yards from where he originally was hit.”
The Kansas elk muzzleloader season runs Sept. 1-30, with an archery season Sept. 17-Dec. 31 and a firearm season Nov. 28-Dec. 9. There is also an extended firearm season Jan. 1-March 15, 2019. Fort Riley has its own seasons, with both muzzleloader and archery seasons running Sept. 1-30 and a firearm season Oct. 1-Dec. 31.