Elk were another big game species that were common in pre-settlement Kansas. They were also extirpated at the turn of the century. However, a small herd was maintained at the Maxwell Wildlife Area near McPherson. The 2,200-acre enclosure is operated as a refuge and also features bison. In 1981, elk from Maxwell were released at the Cimarron National Grassland, and that herd was free-ranging. To keep that herd from growing too big and causing crop damage, a limited resident-only season was opened in 1987. Later in the 1980s, elk were captured at Maxwell and released on the Ft. Riley Military Reservation. That herd is also free-ranging, and a season was established for the fort in 1990. Today, elk are primarily hunted on and around Ft. Riley, but individual elk or small herds may be found at other locations around the state, and hunting is permitted everywhere except a portion of Morton County (see Elk Management Unit maps). About 900 applications are received for the 20 or so permits allotted each year, and they are divided among military personnel and Kansas residents.

Military permits are only available for active duty military personnel stationed at Fort Riley. All other eligible persons must apply for general permits.